Good Monday morning.

It's a busy day already at Early Returns HQ -- Mark Critz got the endorsement over Jason Altmire from the United Steelworkers union in the (wild) Pa12 race; more on that later -- and now there's more congressional news.

Democrat Larry Maggi, a Washington County commissioner and former state trooper and sheriff, announced today that he is running for Republican Tim Murphy's seat south of Pittsburgh. He is the only known Dem candidate so far, and he'll be sitting back while Murphy deals with the attack on his right flank from GOP challenger Evan Feinberg.

UPDATE 2:30 P.M. In an interview this afternoon Maggi, 61, said he has "a burning desire for service" and wants to take the economic message from Washington County to Congress.

"It just seems there is so much going on in DC that I hear that is beyond my control as a commissioner. We've done pretty well in Washington County with jobs -- we're the third fastest growing county in the nation in job growth -- and I want to take that experience and go to D.C. I know you're one of 435 men and women, but I want to go down and do there what we've done here successfully," he said.

That success is largely due to the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom. Maggi, the chairman of the Washington County commissioners, says he supports exploration as long as it does not mistreat the environment and that natural gas firms have "been good stewards" in his experiences.

Maggi opposes President Obama's health care reform package, saying some kind of reform is needed but he does not think "what was passed was a good piece of legislation." He is anti-abortion and pro-gun (the former trooper owns 12 handguns) and as a Marine Corps vet hopes to work on veterans issues in Congress.

He ran for the seat a decade ago and lost by 9 points in the Democratic primary to Jack Machek, and he admitted to looking past the campaign toward the general election against then state Sen. Tim Murphy.. "I raised a lot of money but I kind of forgot about the primary and didn't get to go to the dance," Maggi said.

Full statement from the Maggi campaign after the jump: Buffalo Township, PA: Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi announced today that he is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.  Maggi has dedicated his career to serving his country and community, and now looks to continue that service in Congress.  Under Maggi's leadership, Washington County was 3rd in the nation in job creation in 2010.

“I’m running for Congress because southwestern Pennsylvanians deserve a representative who will put the people of the 18th District ahead of partisan politics,” said Maggi.  "For too long, too many politicians have put their political careers ahead of the interests of their constituents.  As a father and a veteran I have spent my career finding practical solutions to real world problems, and I intend on bringing that approach with me to Washington.”

Larry graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and served in the United States Marine Corps. Larry was a State Trooper for 24 years with the Pennsylvania State Police Force. He was elected as the Sheriff of Washington County in 1998, and re-elected four years later, serving until 2003 when he won election to his current position as Washington County Commissioner.  As Washington County’s Commissioner, Maggi has focused on creating jobs, protecting our environment, increasing services for veterans and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of county government.

“The people of Pennsylvania cannot afford more of the same partisan politics in Washington D.C. It is some politicians' agenda to end Medicare as we know it, cut benefits to veterans, gut our education system, and deny tax breaks for the middle class,” said Maggi. “Pennsylvanians are fed up with what is going on in Washington D.C."

Maggi has dedicated his career to serving southwestern Pennsylvanians and is a lifelong resident of Washington County. He currently lives in Buffalo Township with his wife, Mary Jeanne. They have four children: Bronwyn, Michele, Charlene and Paul, and two grandchildren, Ava and Ryan.
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