A unique story to say the least. More than 85% of votes cast went to Democrat Anthony “Tony” DeLuca, Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative. There is only one problem. DeLuca, 85, passed away on October 9 from lymphoma, a condition he had previously beaten back twice.
The technicality of how it was even possible for him to win is not something that usually happens. When he passed away, it was too late to add another name to the ballot or run for his seat. Despite the fact that DeLuca’s opponent, the Green Party’s Queonia “Zarah” Livingston, received more than 14% of the vote, a special election will now be held at a later time.
“While we’re incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously,” the Pennsylvania House Democratic campaign committee said in a tweet.
While we're incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters to continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously. A special election will follow soon. pic.twitter.com/CfLnSCuvK9
— PA House Dems (@PAHDCC) November 9, 2022
It’s not the first time a candidate has triumphed in an election after passing away. Dennis Hof, the owner of a brothel, was elected to the Nevada Senate in 2018 as a Republican despite passing away a month before. But unlike in Pennsylvania, his victory did not lead to a special election; instead, county officials could and did name a Republican to fill Hof’s seat for the duration of the term under Nevada state law.
DeLuca served as the Democratic head of the House insurance committee for the last 20 years while also serving 39 years as the representative for Pennsylvania’s 32nd legislative district. After receiving his initial lymphoma diagnosis and the breast cancer diagnosis of his late wife of 66 years, he fought for patients’ rights with insurance companies and to hold medical professionals accountable. He also became a vocal supporter of cancer awareness and increased funding for local cancer research. DeLuca won election to the Pennsylvania House for 20 terms. At the time of his death, he was the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania House.
He is survived by his four children. One of which, his son ‘Tony jr” was elected to serve as mayor of Penn Hills and as a magistrate judge. There will be a special election to vote on who will replace Rep DeLuca.