Rep. Tim Murphy (R)
Pennsylvania 18th District
Pittsburgh was built on the unlikeliest terrain of any major U.S. city. Just about the only level places in the city or its suburbs are the bottomlands along the rivers. Everything else is hills that approach the magnitude of mountains. Only a propitious location, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join to form the Ohio, and the confluence of economically valuable natural resources—coal from the mountains and iron ore from the Great Lakes—can explain why a large metropolitan area sprang up on such land. The great cities of California were built around and over mountains, but they are vast expanses of contiguous communities, most of them little distinguishable from the next. The cities and towns of greater Pittsburgh, in contrast, are discontinuous, separated from each other not just by miles but by altitude. So the region’s high-income suburbs and its gritty factory towns are not concentrated in one quarter, but are scattered all around. This is long-settled country, with many more old towns than sparkling new suburbs. Since 2000, the population in the area has been declining, but with some increase in high-wage jobs to counter an ongoing loss of blue-collar jobs.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 18th Congressional District of Pennsylvania covers an irregularly shaped swath of the southern part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and was designed by Republican redistricters in Harrisburg to maximize the GOP vote. It includes most of southern Allegheny County, most of Westmoreland County and most of Washington County. It stretches from the Pittsburgh city limit to the West Virginia border. It contains the Pittsburgh International Airport and the towns of Monroeville, Greensburg and Ligonier. The area is dotted with the vast estates of Mellons and other scions of Pittsburgh’s industrial elite. The district’s backbone is comprised of middle- to upper-middle-class bedroom suburbs, like Mount Lebanon and Upper St. Clair in Allegheny County and Penn Township and Greensburg in Westmoreland County. These areas lean Republican, but not overwhelmingly so. Although Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, has an estate in Fox Chapel, the Democratic ticket did not do well here. Republican George W. Bush carried the district with 54% in 2004. Republican presidential nominee John McCain won the district with 55% in 2008.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: Sept. 11, 1952, Cleveland, OH .
Home: Upper St. Clair.
Education: Wheeling Jesuit U., B.S. 1974, Cleveland St. U., M.S. 1976, U. of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. 1979.
Family: Divorced; 1 child.
Elected office: PA Senate, 1996-2002
Professional Career: Practicing psychologist, 1976-2002; author.
The congressman from the 18th District is Tim Murphy, a Republican elected in 2002. He grew up in Cleveland in a family of 11 children. He graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University, got a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and became a child psychologist. He worked in several Pittsburgh area hospitals and was an adjunct faculty member in public health and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. He became well-known locally as “Dr. Tim,” offering advice in television appearances and on radio talk shows. He also co-authored the book, The Angry Child: Regaining Control When Your Child is Out of Control. (After getting elected to Congress, he co-authored another book titled, Overcoming Passive-Aggression, behavior that he sees on a regular basis on Capitol Hill.) In 1996, Murphy was elected to the state Senate, where he sponsored a new Patient Bill of Rights and increased funding for medical research. Redistricters drew the 18th District with Murphy in mind. The new district included the house of incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Mascara, but he opted to run in the newly drawn 12th District. Murphy was unopposed in the Republican primary, and presented himself as an experienced and accomplished legislator who opposed abortion rights and supported gun ownership. He had extensive support from state and national Republicans and outspent Democratic nominee Jack Machek, a school district administrator, $894,000 to $126,000. Murphy won 60%-40%, an impressive showing in an open seat race.
|Tim Murphy (R)||213,349||(64%)||($2,073,251)|
|Steve O'Donnell (D)||119,661||(36%)||($536,308)|
|Tim Murphy (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (58%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (60%)
In the House, Murphy quickly gained recognition as president of his freshman class. In 2005, he won a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, giving him an opportunity to focus on health care issues. He focused in particular on programs for military veterans with mental illness and on improving security for their medical records. In 2007, he backed the Democrats’ plan to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which he said had “a proven track record of helping families make sure their children lead healthy lives.” He worked on legislation, enacted in 2008, to provide parity for mental health coverage in health insurance policies. In 2009, Murphy called for creation of a trust fund to pay physicians a few dollars for every patient that converts to an electronic personal health record. “Everybody has a stake in healthcare IT,” he said.
Murphy has not been seriously challenged for re-election. In 2006, he escaped what likely would have been a competitive contest when former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer decided against a challenge. In 2008, consultant Beth Hafer, Barbara Hafer’s daughter, was the favorite of Democratic leaders. But she was a disappointing candidate, and finished second in the Democratic primary. Businessman Steve O’Donnell, the nominee, got little traction against Murphy, who won 64%-36%.