PoliticsPA: Singel endorses Critz to replace Murtha
By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer
Democrat Mark Critz won another important endorsement Saturday when his campaign announced the support of former Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel, a boost to his quest to replace John Murtha in Congress.
The endorsement comes just a week before delegates from the 12th Congressional District are set to meet and recommend which candidate be placed on the May 18 special election ballot. The state Democratic Party’s executive committee will make the official decision two days later.
Singel had campaigned against Crtiz, Murtha‘s former district director, for the nomination until suddenly ending his candidacy Thursday. At the time, the former gubernatorial candidate declined to say if he was endorsing any of his opponents. He apparently changed his mind days later.
“This election is far too important for us not to be united behind one strong candidate who can continue Congressman Murtha’s fight for Western Pennsylvanians,” Singel said in a statement. “Mark Critz has already been serving the people of the 12th Congressional District behind the scenes for 12 years through his work in the congressman’s office, and no one knows the district better. He is by far the most qualified candidate in the field.”
Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr., former Navy officer Ryan Bucchianeri, and former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer are also seeking the Democratic nomination. Hafer said Friday she would not drop out of the race as had two other candidates, Singel and Westmoreland County Commissioner Tom Ceraso.
Critz has previously been endorsed by Murtha‘s widow, Joyce, who is now the honorary chairwoman of his campaign. He also received the support of former Murtha ally and wealthy Johnstown businessman Mark Pasquerilla, a Republican who had once considered seeking the GOP nomination for the seat.
Singel‘s backing is another signal that many of those close to Murtha, including much of the Cambria County Democratic establishment, have unified behind Critz‘s campaign.
Cambria County is the second largest in the 12th District, which sprawls across southwestern Pennsylvania and includes eight other counties. It will receive 19 of 100 delegates at Saturday’s straw poll in Delmont, second only to Westmoreland County’s 24.
The challenge for Critz‘s opponents, particularly Hafer, will be persuading Democrats outside of the Johnstown area to rally behind her candidacy. That will be particularly important in Westmoreland, Fayette and Washignton counties, which combined will supply nearly 60 percent of the delegates.
Candidates could also seek to appeal to the party’s 50-member executive committee, made up of members from across Pennsylvania. Although the executive committee traditionally follows the delegates’ recommendation, it is not required to do so.
Even after the executive committee makes its decision, candidates will have the option of running in the party’s primary, also set to take place May 18. Hafer has said she would do so if she doesn‘t receive the nomination.