By Dave Levinthal
Rep. John Murtha, a veteran Democratic lawmaker as popular with his Pennsylvania constituents as he was polarizing on the national political scene, died this afternoon after experiencing complications from gallbladder surgery.
(Read his office's statement, via Capitol News Connection, here).
Murtha was 77. He had served in the House since 1974 and was the first Vietnam War combat veteran to win a congressional seat.
Widely beloved in Pennsylvania's 12th District, which skirts Pittsburgh to the south and east, Murtha helped secure hundreds of millions of federal dollars for his constituents, often through the contentious practice of earmark sponsorships. Murtha easily won re-election to his district's seat in all of his recent races.
Defense contractors and lobbyists also held Murtha in high esteem, filling his campaign coffers with millions of dollars during his political career. For this, along with his frequent use of federal earmarks and lingering ethics rows, political opponents frequently derided Murtha.
Capital Eye will take an extended look at Murtha's career Tuesday morning.