Republican Shannon Edwards, 33, announced Wednesday that she’s seeking her party's nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in a district that includes the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods.
A resident of Lawrenceville, Edwards is a forensic psychologist who has advocated for federal legislation to increase access to mental health care, though she might be better known in recent months for having had an affair with former Republican Congressman Tim Murphy. Murphy resigned last fall amid allegations that he urged Edwards to seek an abortion when they thought she might be pregnant.
The new candidate is choosing not to linger on the controversy.
“There are very important issues, such as mental health reform and criminal justice reform,” Edwards said, “and I hope Pittsburghers really take the time to get to know me as a person – in person. So, I will be out and about, in person, getting to know everybody.”
Edwards said she decided to run for Congress two years ago while helping to promote bills in Congress related to mental health. Observing the legislative process and the various organizations involved, Edwards said she concluded “that folks just really needed to sit down and talk more with one another.”
“Being a licensed clinical forensic psychologist,” Edwards said, “I feel uniquely qualified to be able to do that. And I think that in building more positive relationships with one another, we can tackle a lot more of these national, more difficult issues.”
Murphy, also a psychologist, introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act that Edwards helped to promote. Passed in 2016, it was meant to improve how Medicaid reimburses psychiatric hospitals and established an official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to oversee how mental health funds are spent.
Edwards said she’s had no reservations about running for Congress, despite the publicity surrounding her relationship with Murphy.
“I am actually very excited to be running for the people of Pittsburgh, and I could not be more excited to get to work for the people of Pittsburgh,” she said. “Once I decided and made the decision to run, I am off to the races.”
The Cranberry Township native said she's also interested in exploring legislation to improve education systems.
Formerly an Independent, she’s running as a Republican, but said she shares values from both sides of the aisle. She said she chose to register as a Republican given the difficulty of challenging Doyle, a 23-year incumbent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.