DeLuca, 85, was fighting lymphoma, a disease he had previously defeated, when he died at his home in Penn Hills outside Pittsburgh.
"As Allegheny County’s longest serving state representative, he lived to serve his constituents," says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. "He was always thinking about what is best for the working men and women in his beloved Penn Hills."
House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) said the House lost a giant when DeLuca died.
“He recognized the importance of the work we undertake in Harrisburg and its impact on people’s lives and was a staunch champion of legislative transparency and the professionalism of our institution. He served as a mentor to younger members and will be sorely missed by his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus, the entire legislative community, and his friends and neighbors in Allegheny County,” McClinton said.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) said he worked closely with DeLuca on legislation, enjoyed his light-hearted manner, and respected his thoughtful approach to legislating.
“Tony was always dedicated to his constituents and understood the art of working across the aisle to achieve the best results for the people he represented, and the people of Pennsylvania,” Benninghoff said.
House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said DeLuca was one of the most respected and revered members of the lower chamber.
“We will miss his welcoming spirit and wisdom in our chamber, and we will miss the friendship he brought to so many,” Cutler said.
First elected in 1982, DeLuca represented the economically and racially diverse 32nd House District in Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs, and was the ranking Democrat on the House Insurance Committee for more than 20 years.
The House Democratic Caucus said DeLuca’s passion was to be a patient advocate with insurance companies and ensuring professional accountability and patient safety in all areas of medicine.
After his first lymphoma diagnosis, and his wife Connie’s breast cancer diagnosis, DeLuca became an advocate for cancer awareness and early detection and introduced legislation to increase funding for cancer research and improve procedures for cancer diagnosis and care, Democrats said.
McClinton also noted he worked to expand access to health insurance by advancing the legislation that created programs such as Children’s Health Insurance Plan and Pennsylvania’s health insurance marketplace, Pennie.
Among his other legislative achievements was championing a law to create a life insurance database to help Pennsylvania residents find out if they are beneficiaries of a life insurance policy after a loved one’s death.
DeLuca also amassed a conservative voting record on subjects such as abortion rights, guns, and criminal justice issues. Notably, he voted last year to change state law to regulate nonprofit bail funds in the same way as for-profit bail bond companies.
DeLuca was facing a re-election challenge from Green Party candidate Zarah Livingston, a health care worker who said she would push to legalize marijauna and psilosybin, the hallucinogenic substance found in magic mushrooms.
Peter Hall is a senior reporter at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.