PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Congressman Tim Murphy, of Upper St. Clair, has reached a decision about his political future.
In a statement to KDKA’s Jon Delano, the embattled anti-abortion Republican says he won’t seek re-election. The statement reads in full:
“After discussions with my family and staff, I have come to the decision that I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of my current term.
I plan to spend my remaining months in office continuing my work as the national leader on mental health care reform, as well as issues affecting working families in southwestern Pennsylvania.
We have accomplished much in the past year through the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and there is much work yet to be done.
In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing. I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.”
Published reports said Murphy met earlier on Wednesday with Republican leadership in Washington DC, after a report surfaced Tuesday that he suggested his mistress have an abortion, despite the congressman’s pro-life stance.
KDKA’s Political Editor Jon Delano reports that sources said Murphy had two choices — resign immediately or announce his retirement at the end of next year when his term is up.
But some local Republicans are wondering whether Murphy should resign, instead of his announcement that he’ll retire.
“I think from the viewpoint of the Trump supporters and the pro-life supporters, they would absolutely say yes,” Justin DePlato told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
DePlato was a Trump delegate to the Republican convention from Murphy’s 18th District.
“Resign or definitely not seek another term,” urged DePlato.
On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported text messages between Murphy and the woman with whom he had extra-marital relations suggested the pro-life congressman had urged the woman to have an abortion.
In a Jan. 25 text, she told the congressman, “You have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last weekend when we thought that was one of the options.”
At the time, both thought she was pregnant, although it turned out she wasn’t.
“It’s hard to remember a career that has come under this much heavy fire all at one time,” says Duquesne University law professor Joe Mistick. “He’s in a very, very tight spot.”
Mistick says Murphy may have institutional support among his colleagues in Washington, but “that may not be enough to carry him through this.”
“This is really a local issue, more than it is a Washington issue,” Mistick said.
Mayor Bill Peduto said resignation was entirely up to Murphy.
“If he would decide that the job is secondary compared to family, that would be something that I think would really come down to him and his own family,” says Peduto.
So far, Murphy has not responded to the allegations — and that, too, angers some former local supporters.
“He needs to speak to the folks,” said DePlato. “Yes, he should speak out. He should have a press conference to tell us what’s happening and why it’s happening and whatever else he wants to tell us.”
The abortion issue is not the only problem for the congressman.
A former congressional district director for Murphy says the local Republican has a history of being abusive.
“It was one of the worst places I have ever worked in my life,” Nick Rotondo told KDKA’s Marty Griffin on his radio show.
Rotondo, a retired commander in the U.S. Navy who trained airline pilots, headed up Murphy’s Pittsburgh office for 16 months before being fired.
“Screaming, intimidation, nothing you ever did was right. He couldn’t maintain staff,” Rotondo said.
Rotondo confirmed some of the details of a memo sent by Murphy’s chief of staff Susan Mosychuk, outlining the abuses to the congressman.
In the June 8 memo, Mosychuk wrote, “I have both witnessed an been exposed to hostile, erratic, unstable, angry, aggressive, and abusive behavior from the congressman.”
“I was told I was incompetent and insurbordinate,” said Rotondo. “That’s what I was told. Okay, you can’t be competent when you are dealing with a crazy person. No matter what you did, everything was wrong. I may not have been the greatest administrator, but one thing I did know how to do was lead, and it was hard to build a team when you couldn’t keep people, and it was hard to lead a team.”
In her memo, Mosychuk said there was nearly 100 percent staff turn-over this year alone.
One local Republican says it’s all piling up for Murphy.
“Clearly, his brand, his name is becoming somewhat toxic,” says DePlato.
With Murphy’s retirement, both parties are likely to compete vigorously for the open seat. Although, the 18th district in Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties was drawn to elect Republicans it has a democratic majority.
Early speculation on the Republican side includes state Reps. Jason Ortitay, Guy Reschenthaler, and Rick Saccone. On the Democratic side, possible candidate include Mike Crossey, Pam Iovino and Bob Solomon.
But this list of potential candidates is expected to change, as Murphy becomes a lame-duck member of Congress.
Former U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire tells the “KDKA Morning News,” “[Murphy] is a friend of mine. I like him personally…He hurt a lot of people. He made a terrible personal mistake and he’s going to pay for it and it’s unfortunate.”
Altmire adds he hopes his accomplishments in office don’t get overlooked.
“He’s worked very hard on [mental health issues]. He has an incredibly positive record on those issues in the Congress and I hope that is not lost in his record because the way he’s leaving office, it’s self-inflicted…and he has to live with that, but he did do some good things in office and I hope that part of his record at least survives,” said Altmire.