West News Wire: Tony DeLuca, a state representative for Pennsylvania, defeated his rivals by a wide margin on Tuesday. The only issue is that he passed away last month, which puts officials in an awkward situation as they set up another election to fill the vacancy. DeLuca is just one of many dead politicians who have received victories this week.
On October 9, DeLuca passed away from lymphoma at the age of 85, but it was already too late to change the results or advance a different candidate in his place. As the delegate with the longest tenure in Pennsylvania, he handily defeated his rival, Zarah Livingston of the Green Party, winning about 86% of the vote as voting was completed on Wednesday afternoon.
Pennsylvania law dictates that replacement candidates cannot be selected after physical ballots have begun being printed. Allegheny, the county previously represented by DeLuca, started printing its ballots on September 28, more than a week before the lawmaker died.
The state’s House Democratic campaign committee announced that a special election would soon follow to fill DeLuca’s open seat, but noted it is “proud to see the voters continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously.”
DeLuca is not the only politician to win from the grave this week, with former Tennessee state Rep. Barbara Cooper, another Democrat, defeating independent candidate Michael Porter despite dying late last month. She was 93 when she passed, and had been in office since 1996.
As in Pennsylvania’s case, Tennessee state law also mandates a cut-off date for the introduction of new candidates, meaning all hopefuls must remain on the ballot after that time, even if they are no longer living. Governor Bill Lee has said there will be a special election to determine Cooper’s successor.
Similar circumstances may arise in the municipal attorney contest in Chula Vista, California, where Democrat Simon Silva, who passed away from cancer in September, is presently leading Republican Dan Smith. According to the local media, if Silva were to win, a special election would cost the city’s tax payers almost $2 million to finance.
In American politics, posthumous triumphs are not unheard of; one such instance occurred earlier this year when voters in Palmhurst, Texas opted to re-elect their late mayor, who passed away just before the election. Weeks after his passing, state representative for North Dakota David Andahl defeated a longstanding incumbent in the Republican primary for 2020, while state lawmaker for Wyoming Roy Edwards passed away the day before winning a contest.