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Critz beats the map

Published by Tim McNulty on .

"When this map was drawn, I was despondent," Mark Critz said at the top of his election remarks last night. "I thought there's no way I can win this. There's no way. The geography is so stacked against me."

From the beginning of the Altmire-Critz race  (going back to mid December) Jason Altmire's campaign was pushing his huge advantages, not only in name recognition and polling but the voter registration numbers. Two-thirds of the voters in the new 12th were from his old 4th District: 62 percent were in Allegheny (35%) and Beaver (27%) counties alone, to the 24 percent in Critz's home base of Cambria (17%) and Somerset (7%). It's no surprise then that Altmire himself lobbied Democratic state legislators in his district to approve the new lines.

But then the overall primary turned into part snoozefest part ultra-negative ad dirtstorm, leading in Altmire's home county to what could be* record low turnout. While 69% of the Allegheny County vote went to Altmire, only 19.9% of registered Democrats voted. In Beaver 25.5% of Dems turned out, though again 69% of the vote went his way.

No wonder (turnout aside) Altmire said last night that "If you had told me before the race of the numbers in my own territory I would have been happy with the results."

As we know that didn't happen due to the roughly 90% of the vote that went for Critz in Cambria and Somerset. On top of that, the turnout rates in those counties were also high: about 34% of registered Dems voted in Cambria and the 27% of total registered voters next door in Somerset (election officials there don't have a party breakdown).

Put another way -- in this odd race, a turnout number of only 34% was astronomical and propelled Critz to a shocking win over a better known, better financed foe. Hand it to Altmire: he called it on Monday.

(*We hope to have more on historical turnout data for Pittsburgh's home county later.)

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Big night for Pittsburgh liberals

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Our first post-election tea-leaves story of the day concerns more on the mayoral proxy skirmishing from last night's results, and particularly the Ed Gainey and Erin Molchany city legislative wins helmed by Bill Peduto's political guy, Matt Merriman-Preston.

The wins showed a progressive Democrat like Peduto can take on the old guard (and no Pittsburgh guard is older-er than in the 19th ward) and the Ravenstahl forces come next year's race, writes Chris Potter at City Paper:

Arguably, though, the biggest winners last night were Matt Merriman-Preston -- who managed both the Gainey and Molchany campaigns -- and the politician for whom Merriman-Preston acts as field marshal: city councilor Bill Peduto. Last night's results showed that voters across the city are ready for new faces and a progressive message -- the same message Peduto will no doubt campaign on during his likely run against Mayor Luke Ravenstahl next year. The outcomes also suggested that the old guard's grip on power is increasingly arthritic.

Want proof? Take a closer look at Molchany's win. Not long ago, some no-talent hack contended that Schmotzer had the edge in this race, because he had the Democratic Party endorsement and Wagner's backing. The 19th makes up a large chunk of the district: When combined with Schmotzer's own clout -- he was a longtime school board member in the Baldwin-Whitehall district, which overlaps some of the 22nd -- Schomtzer looked tough to beat.

And yet Wagner couldn't deliver his own backyard. The 19th ward, in fact, is where Molchany had her best numbers.

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Rothfus congratulates Critz

Published by Tim McNulty on .

GOP challenger Keith Rothfus gives his first thoughts on his race versus Mark Critz in PA12:

PITTSBURGH, PA – I'd like to congratulate Representative Critz on his victory tonight in the Democratic primary, as well as Representative Altmire for his hard-fought race. I look forward to a spirited discussion in the coming months regarding the direction this country is headed.

The people of Southwestern Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to decide if they believe a top-down, centralized, one-size-fits-all approach with the answers coming from Washington is the direction we want, or if we should empower the people of Southwestern PA – the job creators, the doctors, the mineworkers, the hard-working men and women – to decide what is best for themselves and their families. I took a six-county tour of the new PA-12 today and will be doing the same tomorrow. The greatest part of this race for Congress is having the opportunity to meet the people in the PA-12, getting to know them, hearing their stories, and I look forward to continuing that effort in the months to come.

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Maher: Gotta know how to count

Published by Karen Langley on .

After clinching the GOP nod for auditor general -- he has two-thirds of the vote with nearly all precincts reporting -- state Rep. John Maher said voters are looking for someone who can count.

Maher, an auditor who founded a Pittsburgh accounting firm, said in an interview on PCN that the message from voters was "loud and clear: that Pennsylvania deserves an auditor for auditor general."

"In these difficult fiscal times, the public is ready for public officials who know how to count," he said.

His Republican opponent, Frank Pinto, said he was grateful for the votes he'd gotten without backing from the state party. The Democratic candidate, state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, ran unopposed.

And that's it until morning from the auditor general's race.

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AFL-CIO on Critz win

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Expect a lot of talk in coming days about the big labor push for Mark Critz over Jason Altmire. The AFL-CIO is out first with a statement:

"The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO would like to congratulate all of the candidates on their hard fought victories today," said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale. "It's now time to look towards the November election and redouble our efforts to ensure candidates who support working families in Pennsylvania are elected."

"Everyone is surprised but us in organized labor, and those who know Mark Critz!" said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.

Pennsylvania unions contributed over 600 volunteers, who knocked on over 10,000 doors, made over 64,000 phone calls and sent over 36,000 pieces of mail.

UPDATE: And from the SEIU:

Harrisburg—Gabe Morgan, President of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, and Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU Local 668 released the following joint statement this evening on the come from behind victory for Mark Critz in the district 12 congressional primary:

"On behalf of the over 80,000 members of SEIU in Pennsylvania, we want to congratulate Congressman Critz on his great victory in tonight's primary.

"Throughout this campaign, the differences between Mark Critz and Jason Altmire could not have been clearer. Time and again, Mark Critz has stood with working families and against the big corporations, millionaires, and billionaires who are not paying their fair share. He has always understood that we need to level the playing and has kept his promise to fight for those who are struggling.

"Over the past several weeks, SEIU members have mobilized, hit the pavement, and spent countless hours talking to voters across the 12th Congressional District about Congressman Critz's candidacy. Today's results send a clear message as we move toward the November elections: the people of Pennsylvania want candidates in office who will fight for working families and the middle class.

"We are proud to stand with elected leaders who represent the 99%, and look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Critz as he fights for hard-working Pennsylvanians."