Opinion: A life lesson from these midterm elections NPR's Scott Simon reflects on several electoral races in which candidates were posthumously elected.

Opinion: A life lesson from these midterm elections

Opinion: A life lesson from these midterm elections

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1136204962/1136267879" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

State Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, watches the vote board as her bill to limit license restoration fees passes during House session on April 12, 2006 in Nashville, Tenn. Cooper, who served in the General Assembly, died on Oct. 25, 2022. She was 93. John Russell/AP hide caption

toggle caption
John Russell/AP

State Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, watches the vote board as her bill to limit license restoration fees passes during House session on April 12, 2006 in Nashville, Tenn. Cooper, who served in the General Assembly, died on Oct. 25, 2022. She was 93.

John Russell/AP

Several candidates who won their races in these 2022 midterm elections will not be able to serve for a sound, but unfortunate reason: they are dead.

We should quickly explain: there is no scandal. Between campaigns for local, state, and federal offices, judges, prosecutors, county boards, city councils, coroners, and more, there are thousands of candidates on ballots across the country. I hope it does not sound callous to note that the odds are not all of them will make it to election day. Some may die after ballots are printed, or even after voting has begun.

State Representative Tony DeLuca of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania - the longest-serving member in the state's House of Representatives - won more than 85% of the vote in his district.

But Mr. DeLuca died in early October from lymphoma, at the age of 85. A special election to fill his seat will be held in a few weeks.

"While we're incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca," the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee said in a tweet this week, "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."

Tennessee State representative Barbara Cooper was re-elected to represent House District 86, a seat she held since 1996. But Rep. Cooper died last month, at the age of 93. A special election will also be held for that seat.

But there is controversy in Chula Vista, California. Simon Silva currently has a 149 vote lead over Dan Smith in the contest for City Attorney.

Dan Smith contends the local Democratic party was disingenuous to continue to send out campaign literature for Mr. Silva, who died of cancer in September, at age 56. It was too late to legally remove his name from the ballot.

"I think they did a disservice to members of their party by not informing them," Mr. Smith told ABC 10News in San Diego. "My frustration is nothing compared to their frustration once they find out today that Mr. Silva has passed away and they voted for him."

A special election will be held in Chula Vista, which officials estimate will cost between a million and two million dollars.

Candidates make many promises, sincere and otherwise, in hopes of being elected. But the passing of people who looked forward to serving might remind us that some forces in life are just beyond the power of any promises we make.