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PA12 dark money makes union head "puke"

Published by Tim McNulty on .

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There is more "dark money" -- campaign spending from groups that don't have to disclose their donors -- in the PA12 race outside Pittsburgh than in any congressional race in the country, according to figures released today from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

Most of the $3.3 million in funding has gone to support Republican challenger Keith Rothfus in the race through attack spots on Democratic incumbent Mark Critz. Outside spending in that race (and a surge of Senate and presidential ads) have made the Pittsburgh market the fifth-most advertised in the country.

The barrage of ads is taking a toll on Critz's supporters in organized labor. Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers union, addressed the race at a Downtown rally this morning, after returning from a barnstorming tour of Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio for Barack Obama.

"When this election was called, Mark Critz was about 14 points ahead. The guy running against him, if you watch local televison, you'll probably puke," Gerard said. "If you get the local television you'll get three anti-Critz ads in a row from three unnamed secret groups. They have spent more money in this congressional district this cycle than they probably spent in all Pennsylvania congressional districts last cycle."

The challenges facing Critz have trickled down to the Beltway talking head crowd. Here's NBC's Chuck Todd talking about PA12 on Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC (video here):

Matthews: "There's a lot of work to be done by the Democrats in southeastern Pennsylvania."

Todd: "They do have work to do in western Pennsylvania. There's a whole bunch of democratic -- your friend Mark Critz is in big trouble."

Matthews: "We can talk about that Appalachian part of the state. I don't want to start a fight right now."

Graphic: Sunlight Foundation

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