Dems Altmire, Critz spending big in primary

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The incumbent Democrats in the PA12 primary spent more than $1.3 million combined battling each other in the first three months of the year.

Jason Altmire had $419,453 in cash going into the homestrech against fellow Democrat Mark Critz's $232,183 in the April 24 primary.

Altmire's pre-primary report on finances from Jan.1 through April 4 showed he raised $330,579 during the period and spent $763,418. Critz's report showed $267,554 in contributions and $550,947 in spending.

We'll have more on the details later.

UPDATE: From the Altmire camp:

. . . the campaign of Mark Critz reported raising $267,554.16 and the candidate loaned his campaign an additional $50,000. The Critz campaign also reported a debt of $76,053.08 which includes $22,330.02 owed to Capital Principles, the law firm they used for their failed petition challenge.

UPDATE: Unopposed Republican Keith Rothfus raised $241,585 during the period and entered April with $384,491 in cash (after $54,209 in expenses). As the Democrats will surely be spending more of their cash reserves in the dash toward the primary, Rothfus could very well start May with more money than either incumbent.


Clinton endorses Critz

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Former president Bill Clinton endorsed Johnstown Democrat Mark Critz today in his 12th District primary battle against fellow incumbent Jason Altmire, D-McCandless.

Clinton endorsed Critz during his special election battle against Republican Tim Burns in 2010 and was a supporter of Critz's former boss, the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha.

"I am proud to endorse Mark Critz for Congress," Clinton said in a statement. "I know that Mark will continue his work to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, to protect Social Security and Medicare, and do what is right for western Pennsylvania and our nation."

He is not scheduled to stump for Critz, but the campaign is issuing a new commercial noting Clinton opposed efforts to write a balanced budget amendment into the U.S. Constitution, which was legislation Altmire supported.

The full statement from the Critz camp is after the jump:


Dueling legislative maps unveiled

Published by Laura Olson on .


At long last, new district maps for the state General Assembly have been unveiled.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission is still underway, but the new maps being discussed are largely similar to those rejected in January.

The Senate plan from Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi still moves the seat of Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, to the Poconos. (State Rep. Mario Scavello, who had planned to run for that seat, was in the audience this afternoon.)

The House plan, which appears to have more agreement between the two parties, now would move five seats to new regions.

As under the rejected plan, former Democratic Rep. Chelsa Wagner's Southside district would move to the Lehigh Valley, the Philadelphia seat of former GOP Rep. Dennis O'Brien goes to York, retiring Rep. John Evans's Erie seat goes to Berks, and shuffling the Scranton-area seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Ed Staback over one county to Monroe.

The new move is transporting retiring Democratic Rep. Bud George's district to Chester County, rather than combining the districts of Democratic Reps. Nick Kotik and Jesse White. They now will keep their districts separate.

We'll post readable electronic versions as soon as they're available.

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m. -- As I was typing this up, the commission chairman, Stephen McEwen unveiled his own set of maps, which mirror the House plan but instead would relocate the seat of GOP Sen. Jane Orie (who will be sentenced for criminal convictions on May 21) to Monroe County.

UPDATE, 3 p.m. -- The McEwen-drafted Senate map and consensus House map were approved 4-1, with Democratic Sen. Jay Costa dissenting.

Details of the new House and Senate districts are after the jump ...


Internal poll puts Smith ahead in GOP senate primary

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Internal polling by Tom Smith’s campaign puts the Armstrong County candidate ahead in the Republican Senate primary, but his supporters still are outnumbered by undecided GOP voters.

Twenty-nine percent of likely GOP primary voters surveyed said they favor Mr. Smith while 14 percent said they favor Sam Rohrer of Berks, 9 percent favor Steve Welch of Chester, 7 percent favor David Christian and 2 percent favor Marc Scaringi.

With the primary just 12 days away, 39 percent remain undecided, according to poll results the Smith campaign released today.

Six hundred likely GOP primary voters were surveyed by telephone Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.


More state GOP lawmakers join Welch bandwagon

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Harrisburg lawmakers are lining up to bolster Steve Welch’s campaign for U.S. Senate. The ranks have grown to 25 state reps and eight state senators, plus Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.

During a conference call with politics reporters today, Mr. Cawley called the Chester County Republican a strong partner for state lawmakers who are  “striving to … create lasting prosperity.”

Said Mr. Cawley: “I know what it’s like to be a candidate in a hotly contested primary. It ain’t easy. … He’s demonstrated he’s a very strong worker and I know he’s going to bring that same work ethic and tenacity” to Washington.

Also joining the call were state Republican Chairman Rob Gleason; state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson;  and state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-Chester.

They said the party wants to push Mr. Welch over the finish line as the April 24 primary approaches.

“He’s a candidate who will take pro-growth, pro-business values to Washington, D.C., which we so badly need,” Mr. Scarnati said. “And, he is the candidate who gives us the best chance to beat [Democratic incumbent] Bob Casey in the fall.”

Mr. Welch, who also participated in the call, characterized Mr. Casey as being out of touch with the business community as he supports legislative policies that burden entrepreneurs.

Mr. Welch faces four primary challengers: David Christian of Bucks, Sam Rohrer of Berks, Mark Scaringi of Dauphin and Tom Smith of Armstrong.

Mr. Casey has one challenger in the Democratic primary, Joe Vodvarka of Allegheny County.