Mark Critz overcame the odds on Tuesday when he defeated fellow Rep. Jason Altmire. But he’s only half done. He now heads into a general election matchup with better-funded GOP challenger Keith Rothfus. The non-partisan Cook Political Report moved the district from “lean Dem” to “toss up” today.
The change mirrors PoliticsPA’s new congressional vulnerability ratings, published today, which named PA-12 the most likely seat to switch parties in 2012. Crit faces Allegheny County attorney Keith Rothfus in the general election. Rothfus finished the first quarter with about $385,000 on hand; Critz likely has around $100,000.
The National Republican Congressional Committee celebrated the news, emailing reporters and contending that President Obama’s polling struggles in southwest PA will translate into a tough race for Critz.
“With such a partisan record of supporting President Obama, it’s clear that Mark Critz is not the voice Southwestern Pennsylvania voters want in Congress,” argued NRCC Spokesman Nat Sillin. “This rating shift demonstrates the growing momentum against Obama’s anti-energy tax and spend agenda not only in Pennsylvania but also across the country. Mark Critz may have won his primary, but his chances of coming back to Congress grow dimmer by the day.”
Critz’s camp has been through tough races, even before Tuesday. He overcame a tough special election opponent in the race to replace the late Rep. Jack Murtha in 2010, and built on his win in the 2010 general election.
Spokesman Mark Critz dismissed Cook, and said Rothfus was too extreme for the district. He emphasized the same themes that helped his candidate prevail over Altmire.
“There are major differences in this race. Mark Critz opposes unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas, Keith Rothfus supports them. Mark Critz is fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare while Keith Rothfus supports the Republican budget that will end Medicare as we know it. That matters a lot more to the people of Western Pennsylvania than what the Beltway insiders about this race,” Mikus blasted.
“Mark Critz has proven that he can win tough races. The pundits are saying the same things today that they were saying in December about the primary. Don’t count Mark Critz out, He’s proven the pundits wrong time and time again.”
Critz bested Altmire by a narrow 51 to 49 margin.
Update: The Rothfus campaign fired back at Critz over the rating. Said spokesman Jon Raso:
“The Cook score acknowledges what we already knew about PA-12, that the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania are concerned about the direction this country is headed, and that Keith Rothfus is primed for victory. Indeed, there are major differences in this race. Unlike Mark Crtiz who received only a 57% pro-life rating form the National Right to Life, Keith Rothfus will be 100% pro-life,” he said.
“Mark Critz supports President Obama’s reckless fiscal agenda. Mark Critz represents the failed policies that have resulted in the unemployment rate being above 8% for 38 months.”