Former Democratic Pennsylvania state representative Tony DeLuca was posthumously reelected on Tuesday night following his October death.
DeLuca passed away on Oct. 9 from complications with lymphoma, which he had successfully defeated twice before, at 85-years-old. The deceased candidate, who served in the state legislature for 39 years, passed away late into the election cycle and was unable to be removed from the ballot by election officials. DeLuca defeated Green Party challenger Zarah Livingston securing more than 85% of the vote in his district serving Allegheny County. The late representative’s victory has triggered a special election to fill the vacant seat.
“While we’re incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters to continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously,” Pennsylvania House Democrats said on their Twitter account. “A special election will follow soon.”
While we're incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters to continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously. A special election will follow soon. pic.twitter.com/CfLnSCuvK9
— PA House Dems (@PAHDCC) November 9, 2022
The late representative advocated for improving accountability measures for medical professionals and served as the minority chairman on the House Insurance Committee for more than 20 years. DeLuca was also a member of the Democratic Policy Committee, and several other caucuses including Autism, Cancer, Firefighters, and Emergency Services [Chairman Emeritus, Mental Health [Co-Chair], Sportsmen, and Steel.
“Some folks [are] commenting that the voters here were oblivious,” said local government reporter for Public Source Charlie Wolfson, noting Livingston’s loss to the late incumbent in a Wednesday morning tweet. “Some certainly were. But for others, they likely preferred the idea of a special election over electing the third-party candidate on the ballot.”
On Wednesday, Livingston criticized apprehensive voters for choosing to support the deceased candidate over herself, echoing Wolfson’s sentiment.
“Voting ‘safe’ means because people in my district decided to vote for the guy that is now deceased; to honor his legacy,” Livingston said Monday morning. “We now have no one in our district, to represent us at all until the special election is over. I would love for someone to tell me how this is better??”
Voting “safe” means because people in my district decided to vote for the guy that is now deceased; to honor his legacy. We now have no one in our district, to represent us at all until the special election is over. I would love for someone to tell me how this is better??
— Vote Queonia “Zarah” Livingston PA32 (@ZarahForPA32) November 9, 2022
“I think the way voting works definitely needs a lot of tweaking & changing,” Livingston continued discussing a lack of support for third party candidates. “I don’t think that’s gonna get anywhere the, [sic] if lack of the coverage & quite literal, aggressive, distaste for third parties is not addressed.
DeLuca did not have outside employment aside from his elected position citing his belief serving as a state representative was a full-time commitment both in the Capitol and in the district. The late representative remotely participated in House floor sessions and voted on legislation until a few days prior to his October death.