State Representative Rick Saccone is trading harsh words with former Congressman Tim Murphy, who Saccone sought to replace earlier this year. And the dispute stems from Murphy's support of a rival, state Senator Guy Reschenthaler, in a Congressional primary next week.
According to election records, in April, Murphy's former political committee contributed $200,000 to a new political group, "Conservatives for PA." That group has spent more than $115,000 on mailers and ads to help Reschenthaler become the party's nominee in the 14th Congressional District, south of Pittsburgh.
Saccone is not pleased.
"This is Tim Murphy, whose bad judgment got us into all this mess in the beginning," Saccone said. "I just think Tim Murphy should stay out of politics. He’s done enough damage in Western Pennsylvania."
Murphy stepped down amid reports of an affair last fall, triggering the March 13 special election. Some Republicans saw connections between Murphy and Reschenthaler at the time: The two shared the same political consulting firm, and Murphy later donated money to help Reschenthaler retire debt.
Saccone beat Reschenthaler to become the party's nominee anyway, but then lost to Democrat Conor Lamb in the GOP-friendly district.
Murphy called Saccone's complaints now disingenuous, since during the race, "Saccone continued to ask for my advice, and he actively and repeatedly solicited fundraising support from me."
Saccone and Reschenthaler are now competing in a new district that overlays much of the old one. Murphy said Reschenthaler represents a better future, "and most importantly, he can win this race in the fall." Republicans pick their nominee next Tuesday.