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Singel poised to join race for Murtha seat

A former lieutenant governor appears poised to jump into the race for U.S. Rep. John Murtha's seat with an announcement scheduled for this morning, two days after a fellow Democratic state senator withdrew his bid.

Mark Singel would join former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer and former Naval officer Ryan Bucchianeri -- all Democrats -- in the race for the seat Murtha held from 1974 until his death Feb. 8. State Sen. John Wozniak, of Johnstown, announced Wednesday he would not enter the race. Republican William Russell, who lost to Murtha in 2008, said yesterday he will run to fill the unexpired term.

Singel and Hafer have said they will step aside if Murtha's widow, Joyce, decides to enter the race. Murtha's spokesman declined to comment.

Gov. Ed Rendell designated May 18, the same day as the primary, as the day for the special election to fill Murtha's unexpired term.

Singel spoke to a knot of reporters outside Westmont Presbyterian Church after Murtha's funeral service, saying while it was too soon to talk about politics, he believed the district's "best day are ahead of it."

Wozniak said he did not want to sacrifice his 14 years of seniority in the Senate at the same time his district was losing Murtha's. The district also could be carved up if Pennsylvania loses a Congressional seat after the 2010 Census, as is expected.

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