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Exclusive: Christiana Considers Bid Against Altmire

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Jim Christiana says Washington D.C. could use a healthy dose of the message he brought to Harrisburg in 2009. The conservative Beaver County lawmaker, who turns 28 next week, confirmed to PoliticsPA that he is considering a bid against Rep. Jason Altmire.

“I think the message that [friends and supporters] gave me three years ago to go to Harrisburg is the same message that they want Washington to hear: fiscal responsibility, bipartisanship and results oriented. I think Washington is missing all three things right now, and I think that’s why some of us are excited about the opportunity that the next three months will give us.”

Christiana said the current district presented a pickup opportunity for Republicans, but emphasized that he would hold off on a decision until after the new congressional lines are drawn.

“It’s short-sighted for me to make any assumptions before the maps are drawn,” he said. “There are a lot of folks that are involved in the redistricting process, and after that I’ll take a serious look at it and see if my family and the constituents want me to go to Washington and clean up the chaos.”

New maps are likely to emerge in October or November. Preliminary discussions indicate that western PA districts will be rearranged to combine the current 4th district with the southwestern district of Rep. Mark Critz, or less likely the Pittsburgh-based seat of Rep. Mike Doyle. Rumors go back and forth as to whether the final iteration of the current PA-4 will be drawn to be a safe seat for Democrats, or a tossup.

Christiana was elected to the PA House in 2008, when he defeated incumbent Vince Bianucci by three points. He cruised to re-election by over twenty-four points last year.

Beaver County GOP Chairman Marty Matthews said he hadn’t yet heard of Christiana’s consideration, but offered his vote of confidence.

“[Christiana] is one of those people who is capable of doing anything he wants to do. He’s quite bright, and I think if he decided that he wanted to run for that office he would certainly be a challenge for Altmire,” Matthews said.

Altmire, one of the most conservative Democrats in Washington, squeaked to re-election by a 1.6 point margin last year.  If he gets in, Christiana will join Allegheny County attorney and 2010 Republican nominee Keith Rothfus in the race.

One caveat: Christiana got engaged earlier this year, and the wedding is tentatively planned for August 2012.

“Obviously my future bride will have something to say about all of this and I want to make sure that she’s happy with it,” he said. “After we decide what’s the best for us, we’ll look at seeing if going to Washington is an opportunity or not.”

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