Rep. John Murtha is now in a Virginia hospital's intensive care unit after unexpected complications from gallbladder surgery last week, his spokesman confirmed this morning.While politically safe in his Pennsylvania seat, Murtha nationally is seen as a symbol of the old guard Democrat pork monsters, hugely unpopular these days and, along with Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi, lightning rods of greed and unethical behavior so rampant in Congress during the past several years. Still while seemingly unbeatable in is own seat, a number of Pennsylvania seats are up for grabs this fall.
Murtha, 77, had been suffering from gallbladder pain and problems in December and arranged to have the organ removed last week at Bethesda Naval Hospital. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democrat declined to discuss the seriousness of the situation that sent Murtha back to another hospital's intensive care unit.
"Congressman Murtha underwent a scheduled laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder last week," his spokesman Matt Mazonkey said. "Complications did arise from the surgery and he is currently at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington."
Without Murtha seeking re-election, however, the district would be extremely competitive. In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried it by less than 1,000 votes (out of more than 260,000 cast) while Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won the 12th by a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent margin four years earlier. The trend line in the district is not moving in the right direction for Democrats, however, as the Vice President Al Gore carried Murtha's seat with 55 percent in 2000.
Republicans believe Pennsylvania is shaping up as very friendly territory for them. The party has united behind state Attorney General Tom Corbett in the governor's race and former Rep. Pat Toomey in the Senate contest. On the House side, Republicans see Pennsylvania's 4th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th districts as potential pickup opportunities. Democrats see the 6th and 15th districts are chances for them to gain Republican-held seats in the fall.