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Republican Gerlach Holds Seat in Tight Pa. Race

The race was considered too close to call until midday Wednesday. The result was a flashback to Murphy’s narrow loss to Gerlach two years ago, when she was beaten by fewer than 7,000 votes as a political newcomer.

Gerlach was considered vulnerable in the moderate district from the beginning of the campaign, but managed to keep the race close. He tried to distance himself from the Bush administration and emphasized issues where he splits from the Republican Party.

“I have always worked across party lines, voted my conscience and tried to do what is best for our country and those I represent,” Gerlach told The Mercury.

While he did support the war in Iraq, Gerlach introduced a measure six months ago asking Congress to set benchmarks for the Iraqi government so the U.S. troops could start a planned pull-out.

Gerlach also split from the Republican Party in his support for embryonic stem cell research and backing of a ban on cruel treatment of detainees by U.S. forces.

Nonetheless, Murphy criticized Gerlach during the campaign for his position on the war and for mostly siding with Republicans. Murphy, in turn, was accused in GOP campaign literature of hating Gerlach.

“I don’t hate Jim Gerlach,” Murphy told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I respect Jim Gerlach, but I disagree strenuously with his voting record and his support of George Bush’s failed policies.”

In his next term, Gerlach has said he plans to continue to push for a Metro commuter rail line and bringing a national veterans cemetery to southeastern Pennsylvania.

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