Congressman Jason Altmire endorsed Mark Critz for reelection in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District on Monday, despite losing to Critz in the Democratic primary election last month.
The two incumbents were pitted against one another when Pennsylvania Republicans combined their districts in December's reapportionment process.
"As a constituent of the 12th Congressional District, I support Mark Critz. I am here to offer him my full support in this race," said Altmire. "I am happy to do so. He is a friend, somebody I have campaigned for before, and I will be happy to do so again."
In his speech, Altmire stressed the importance of retaining the seat for Democrats. He said Congressman Mike Doyle would be the only Pennsylvania Democrat west of Harrisburg if the district goes to Republican Keith Rothfus in the November general election.
"If we turn it over to somebody like Keith Rothfus, who I know very well, somebody who wants to turn back the clock on what we've done and the accomplishments that the president and this Congress have been able to make in rescuing our economy and avoiding catastrophe. If we go in the other direction, that's not only going to be bad for Western Pennsylvania, that's going to be bad for the country," said Altmire.
Altmire's endorsement of Critz was bolstered by the top Democratic brass from around the region. Critz also picked up endorsements from Congressman Doyle (D PA-14), Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Beaver County Commissioner Joe Spanik.
Turning to the General Election
Critz said he doesn't think the general election campaign against Rothfus will turn out any easier than the tight primary race against Altmire. He said he's worried about third-party money beefing up the Republican's campaign.
Critz added that he has to make his presence known in the western counties that have been added to his district.
"Not being as well-known throughout the North Hills, Beaver County, Lawrence County, I consider that all the battleground, because I have to make sure that I'm known in all those areas," said Critz.
The 12th District was redrawn to resemble a barbell. Beaver and Lawrence Counties in the west are now connected to Cambria and Somerset Counties in the east by a thin stretch of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties.
Congressman Doyle said he thinks Critz will win the ends of the barbell in November.
"And then, the battleground is going to be the North Hills of Allegheny County. It's tough sledding for all Democrats, and parts of Westmoreland County," said Doyle. "That's going to be the area where we don't necessarily have to win those areas, but we have to make sure we're getting the Democratic vote out of there, and maybe a little bit more."
From the Republican camp, Rothfus wrote a statement to criticize both Altmire and Critz, saying the endorsement did not surprise him.
"They both, after all, voted to keep the Medicare-destroying and budget-busting Obamacare bill in place," wrote Rothfus. "And they both share President Obama's indifference to the five trillion dollars in debt the President has rung up over the last three and a half years and the additional $6.4 trillion the President would add to the nation's debt over the next ten years."