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U.S. House rivals Murphy, Maggi spar over jobs, earmarks

| Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 7:37 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy
JASMINE GOLDBAND
Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi. Photographed Thursday, February 23, 2012. (Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review) JLG LarryMaggi.jpg

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy and Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi squabbled in their only televised debate on Tuesday over how to preserve Medicare, lower unemployment and deal with earmark spending in Congress.

“They have not reduced spending down there, and they want to continue giving the top 2 percent, the millionaires and the billionaires, tax breaks,” Maggi said. “We need to make sure the richest of the rich pay their fair share.”

Murphy said that would stifle economic growth and hiring.

“Instead of businesses investing in new employees or new equipment, they're sending that money to the government,” Murphy said.

WPXI-TV host Ellis Cannon moderated the hourlong debate in the station's Summer Hill studios. It aired live on PCNC.

Murphy, 60, an Upper St. Clair Republican, is seeking his sixth term in Congress.

Maggi, 62, a Democrat from Buffalo Township, is mounting his second bid for Congress. Maggi, a former sheriff and state police trooper, lost a 2002 bid in the Democratic primary.

WPXI aired attack ads from both candidates during the debate.

In one of the ads and during the debate, Maggi said Murphy is “out of touch” with his constituents in the 18th Congressional District because he supports vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan, which Maggi and other Democrats contend would raise senior citizens' health care costs by $6,400.

“It's simply false,” Murphy said. “As far as being out of touch with my district, my district didn't want me to vote for the health care bill, I didn't … he said he would not vote to repeal the bill.”

Maggi took issue with that, saying that he wants to change Obamacare and that Murphy should be finding ways to reduce government spending.

“Instead of being here pointing fingers, you should be doing things,” Maggi said.

Maggi said Murphy supports deficit spending through earmarks.

“That's interesting, because I have sitting on my desk in Washington, D.C., a request from (Maggi) to get $26 million to build an interchange on Interstate 70 in Buffalo Township,” Murphy said.

Maggi later said that infrastructure projects offer legitimate reasons to create earmarks.

Murphy noted that Washington County's government, during Maggi's term, has increased spending and commissioners' salaries. He rejected Maggi's accomplishment of passing nine balanced budgets.

“There's a law that requires him to balance every budget, and every year that he's been in office, he's actually increased spending,” Murphy said.

Fundraising has been lopsided in the incumbent's favor.

Maggi had $103,595 and spent $568,404 this year as of Oct. 17; Murphy had $539,629 and spent $2 million, a great deal of it to defeat a challenger in the primary. Since ascending from the state Senate to Congress in 2003, Murphy has defeated his opponents by wide margins.

The redrawn 18th Congressional District covers southern Allegheny County and portions of Washington, Westmoreland and Greene counties.

Voter registration in the district favors Democrats (51 percent) over Republicans (38 percent). The remaining voters are independents.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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