The sudden furor surrounding Murphy brought a wave of detractors eager to tell of their mistreatment at his hands during his time in Congress.
Five former Murphy employees contacted POLITICO to share stories of inappropriate behavior by both Murphy and his chief of staff Susan Mosychuk. Those included tales of staff being berated as “worthless” and “stupid.” Others told of being forced by Mosychuk to take the stairs instead of the elevators as punishments for underperforming.
Republicans believed the matter could become an ethics issue that would trigger an investigation and distract from GOP messaging. With Murphy set to resign in two weeks, any ethics probe would end as soon as he left office.
Throughout Wednesday, Murphy held a series of private meetings with other GOP lawmakers as he sought to save his career. Pennsylvania GOP Reps. Charlie Dent and Bill Shuster huddled with Murphy in his office on Wednesday afternoon, but would not discuss what was said following the private session.
By Thursday morning, Murphy began to understand those complications and had drafted a resignation letter.
Murphy’s departure from Congress is expected to set off a scramble to replace him in what is a safe GOP seat. Democrats signaled that they have very low expectations of making a competitive run there.
“Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District is a reliable Republican stronghold, but the grassroots energy behind Democrats has proven powerful this year, and we will be closely tracking this district and special election,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In Pennsylvania special elections, the state central committees for both parties select primary nominees, rather than through a primary vote.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, will set the special general election date, which some political operatives believe will occur on the same day as the regular primary date next May.
“I’d assume the governor would put it on primary election day of next year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant in the state. “If that’s the case, there would be two ballots — a special election ballot and a primary ballot. In theory, a candidate could win the special election and another candidate could win the primary.”
Two Republican candidates announced their bids on Thursday — state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, a former judge and Iraq War veteran, and state Sen. Kim Ward. Local operatives also named state Rep. Rick Saccone, who’s currently running for the U.S. Senate, as another potential candidate.
Three Democrats were already vying to take on Murphy before he resigned, including Pam Iovino, a veteran who picked up an endorsement from VoteVets on Wednesday. But Democratic operatives said they expect more candidates to jump in, naming Matt Smith, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, state Rep. Dan Miller and Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas.