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Dems in Battleground Westmoreland Co Endorse Altmire

By a vote of 27 to 15, the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee voted to endorse Rep. Jason Altmire over Rep. Mark Critz. It’s a noteworthy win, as much of the county in the newly drawn 12th is currently in Critz’s district.

“Critz is 0 for 3 on county endorsements,” blasted Altmire campaign manager Angela Ruslander. “His message isn’t working.”

A native of Lower Burrell in western Westmoreland, Altmire has long argued that he has an edge in the county. Indeed, committee members from his home turf and the nearby Allegheny-Kiski valley accounted for a sizable percent of the votes.

Though today’s endorsement was not a must-win for Critz, Westmoreland County certainly will be on primary day.

Critz responded to the news with a statement that reiterated his charge that Altmire is too conservative for primary voters, and alluded to his ongoing challenge of his opponent’s nominating petitions.

“As is evident in the petition signatures gathered by both campaigns, we have a superior, grassroots organization. Combined with the overwhelming support of organized labor, this will be crucial to victory in April,” he said.

A Westmoreland Democratic insider said there was a strong effort by county and party officials on Critz’s behalf including Commissioner Ted Kopas. That followed several days of mail from the campaigns. But fewer than half of the 89 committee members eligible to vote were present, due in part to inclement weather.

Green is the existing 12th district; light blue outline is the newly drawn 12th; dark blue outline is county borders. Source: LDPC website.

The source, who is currently neutral in the primary, said that Altmire delivered stronger remarks Saturday morning.

“Westmoreland is no longer going to be a drive through county,” Altmire reportedly said. He also pledged to open a constituent services office there.

Critz, meanwhile, emphasized his work for Westmoreland County and that of late Congressman John Murtha.

Committee members from Mt. Pleasant and the Monongahela valley – Westmoreland residents who are also current constituents of Critz – are not included in the new 12th and were not eligible to vote.

Along with today’s win, Altmire has received the endorsement of Democratic committees in Allegheny and Beaver counties. The three counties represent about 75 percent of the Democratic primary voters in the district.

Since the Somerset Dems do not endorse per their bylaws, and the Lawrence County Dems do not meet regularly, the only committee yet to endorse is Cambria, Critz’s home base. Their meeting is Thursday.

The Republican candidate is Allegheny County attorney Keith Rothfus.

13 Responses

  1. These are Dem counties in a Dem primary. Endorsement by the county part is important. Murphy is a candidate and needs to work on getting support in these counties. Westmoreland has almost as many Dems as Delaware county.

  2. TNardi-

    Westmoreland is home to about 120,000 registered Democrats. Kathleen Kane won the endorsement, which means HER name will be marked on the sample ballots on election day.

    Kathleen also won the Beaver County endorse in a 129-0 vote. Murphy didn’t even get ONE vote. That’s a pretty bad. Beaver is home to about 60,000 registered Dems.

    This shows that Murphy’s got little or no support outside of the Philly area. In particular, Westmoreland and Beaver are Dem majority counties.

  3. @Diano:

    SEIU PA represents 80,000 workers across the state. The Westmoreland County Democratic Committee represents — and I’m being charitable here — 1,000 committee people in Westmoreland County.

    Also, last I checked, the Westmoreland Democrats just got their asses handed to them at the courthouse elections for commissioners and row offices. So I’d say Murphy getting the backing of one of the largest, more politically active unions in the state is a smidge more noteworthy that Kane getting endorsed by the Westmoreland Dems.

  4. Is Altmire going to join the GOP race to dismantle Universal Healthcare? I want this opportunist to announce his ALTMIRECARE plan. What special interests own Altmire?

  5. This is good news for Altmire, but it means nothing because the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee is not capable of delivering votes these days. It’s something Altmire can use in a press release, but it will have no discernible impact on the primary vote itself.

  6. David –

    You’re jumping the gun. There was more AG news at today’s Westmoreland endorsement meeting than just the winner. A third candidate announced. Also, the final vote tally was not yet revealed. Stay tuned.

  7. Keegan-

    How come you did an article on Murphy winning SEIU endorsement, but you leave out of this article on Westmoreland that Kathleen Kane got the endorsement of the committee?

    Is PoliticsPA in the tank for Murphy?

  8. Irrelevant. Altmire will be thrown of the ballot because he didn’t enough legitimate signatures.

  9. It’s worth pointing out that Critz is also from Westmoreland County… Campaign fail. Why does Critz even stay in the race now?

  10. I’m not surprised by this result. A friend of mine in Westmoreland mentioned to me how much work was being done behind the scenes to get committee votes. Hard work pays off.

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