May 18 – Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District
On the same day as the regularly scheduled statewide primary, voters in the 12th district will pick who will serve out the rest of the term of the late John Murtha, a Democratic congressman who passed away from complications during gall bladder surgery.
This will undoubtedly be the hottest contested of the three upcoming Congressional special elections. Unlike Florida 19, where Democrats drastically outnumber Republicans and Hawaii 1, where Republicans best shot seems to be the free-for-all election with two Democrats and one Republican running in the general election, this district is pretty evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
The district is in southwest Pennsylvania, surround Johnstown. It is 95% white, Barack Obama and John McCain both received 49% of the vote (a narrow victory in district for Obama) and a largely blue collar workforce.
Democrats have selected Mark Critz, the former district director for Murtha. He fits the necessary bill for a Democrat in the district. Like his predecessor, Critz says he has “conservative Democratic values” and is anti-abortion, notes his strong support for the 2nd Amendment and hopes to continue the dogged work on behalf of military veterans that the late congressman was noted for. To learn more about Critz’s campaign, click here.
Republicans had a vicious selection process, eventually choosing Tim Burns, a young businessman from the district. However 2008 nominee William Russell was not chosen and this does not sit well with the retired Lieutenant Colonel. He has vowed to run against Burns in the primary for the regular general election in November. The statewide primary is also held on May 18, potentially confusing voters who will be voting both for the person to finish Murtha‘s term as well as voting to pick primary choices for November.
Burns grew up in Johnstown and built a successful technology business, beginning out of his basement. It eventually grew to 400 employees and he sold it in 2003. Since then, he has worked on many different businesses and community projects in the district and throughout Pennsylvania. To learn more, click here.