With Mark Critz's victory over Jason Altmire Tuesday, the Cook Political Report has moved the PA12 seat from one that "Leans Democratic" to the "Toss Up" column. The explainer from Cook's David Wasserman:
Democratic Rep. Mark Critz's 51 percent to 49 percent upset of fellow Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, in Tuesday's western Pennsylvania showdown, truly showcased the John Murtha school of political survival at its best. Critz won over 91 percent of the vote in Johnstown and generated disproportionate turnout in his home base, to overcome a 64 percent to 27 percent territorial disadvantage following redistricting. He eked out the closest finish in a member versus member race since at least 1992. But, Critz's victory also makes Democrats' task of winning enough crossover votes to hold Pennsylvania's 12th CD more difficult in November.
Critz enters the general election season with less cash that Republican Keith Rothfus, and has to keep introducing himself to the suburbs north of Pittsburgh where Rothus ran in 2010 (losing to Altmire by less than 2 percentage points). Rothfus, too, has to become better known in Critz country down in Cambria and Somerset counties.
UPDATE: Critz spokesman Mike Mikus responds:"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 radical Ryan 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.
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."
UPDATE 2: And from the Rothfus campaign:"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 from the National Right to Life, Keith Rothfus will be 100% pro-life. Keith is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of society, not the least of which are our seniors. It is Obamacare that ends Medicare as we know it, as it strips Medicare of $500 billion in funding at the same time the Medicare population is set to increase by 42%. Mark Critz supports this gutting of Medicare as he voted against repeal of Obamacare and voted to keep in place the panel of bureaucrats given the power to make our personal healthcare decisions. Keith Rothfus supports restoring the doctor-patient relationship and saving Medicare.
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. These policies have led us down an unsustainable path of debt, and Mark Critz seems quite comfortable with asking all of us to hold China's water as they continue to be the United States' lender of first resort. Keith Rothfus understands that we need to bring jobs back to Southwestern Pennsylvania, and that economic growth will generate new tax revenues to help us pay for the critical social programs that take care of and protect our seniors. He will fight hard to protect our seniors, protect our businesses, and be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollar, a much needed change in this time of uncertainty."