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Critz Sworn In to Replace Murtha

For the first time in 35 years, residents of Pennsylvania’s 12th district are being represented by someone other than Rep. John Murtha.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi administered the oath of office Thursday afternoon to longtime Murtha aide Mark Critz (D-Pa.), who won a special election Tuesday to replace the powerful chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a close Pelosi ally who died in February.

Critz’s victory in a largely rural district that narrowly went to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 helped reassure skittish Democrats about their prospects in November’s midterms. Critz ran a campaign about job creation and on promises that he would be an independent voice for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Democrats on the House floor greeted Critz with rowdy applause, whoops and hollers; Republicans were polite, but their response was more subdued.

Critz was slated to meet with officials at the AFL-CIO on Thursday before being sworn in to talk about his plans to promote jobs and the economy.

Critz easily won Tuesday’s special election against Republican Tim Burns, but he will face him again Nov. 2.

The House now has 255 Democrats and 177 Republicans.

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