Diana And Goliath

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Diana Irey continues her admittedly uphill battle against John Murtha in the PA-12 Congressional race. I admit, I'm biased here because I think Murtha is a disgrace to the office he holds and to the uniform he once wore. But Irey is running hard in this race and she has closed the gap in the polls by a frankly amazing amount. Unseating an incumbent is brutally hard, especially with the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act in place. (Ed note: That was "Campaign Finance Reform". No it wasn't.). Today the Pittsburgh Review-Tribune has a story about the race. Unlike the national media, the local media does a fairly good job of trying to hold a neutral position.

When Diana Irey was a tomboy growing up with three brothers near Clarksburg, W.Va., her life's ambition was to become a wife and mother.

Now, the married mother of three is embroiled in one of the nation's premier midterm election challenges, campaigning against one of the most powerful members of Congress, U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown.

"I always loved the idea of having a family," said Irey, 44, of Carroll Township, Washington County. "It's a sacrifice — being away from them and missing some of their activities — but after listening to Mr. Murtha's comments about the war last year, I prayed about this for six weeks and decided this is where I want to be."

Murtha, 74, a decorated Vietnam veteran, also is driven by a new ambition as he seeks an 18th term in the 12th Congressional District.

Earlier this year, he began to cultivate support among House colleagues and announced he'll seek the majority leader's post if Democrats win the 15 seats needed to regain control of the chamber for the first time since 1994.

"The Democrats are going to be back in power. The Democrats are going to be in charge," predicted Murtha, a close ally of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, of California. Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who most likely would move into the top job of speaker of the House.

Abe Amoros, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said the nation would benefit from Murtha in the leadership role.

"It would be a tremendous public service for the country," Amoros said.

Irey, a Republican who has served as a Washington County commissioner since 1995, disagrees. Highly critical of Murtha, she latched onto the war as her main campaign issue after he called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from a battle he believes is "militarily unwinnable."

Murtha's remarks garnered him the prestigious 2006 Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and support from various groups across the country, but sparked venomous opposition from those who favor staying the course, including Irey.

The petite Irey is quick to point out that she represents a stark contrast to the strapping incumbent who is 30 years her senior. She insists she'll win and compares the Nov. 7 election to a contest between "Diana and Goliath."

The paper doesn't give Irey much chance, which is why an upset here would be fabulous. You can still support Irey's campaign over at the "Rightroots" button on the sidebar and help get a better looking and more honest person into PA-12. The troops will thank you.

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