Murtha aide holds on to Pa. seat for Dems 

Democrat Mark Critz coasted to victory in Pennsylvania's 12th District special election, his victory aided by the popularity of the late Rep. Jack Murtha, who he will replace in Congress.

Murtha over the years had steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the sprawling southwestern district for road projects and equipment, as well as lucrative federal contracts that brought much needed jobs to the area.

As a top aide to Murtha, Critz was considered by voters as somewhat of a surrogate and those who supported him said they are hoping Critz will be able to continue the flow of federal dollars to the district without much interruption.

Democratic voters outnumber Republicans, but the district voted for John McCain in 2008.

Critz's Republican opponent was not able to turn anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the nation into a victory in his district.

Burns campaigned as a political outsider and a successful businessman who has created hundreds of jobs in the district.

But Critz played the Murtha card with great success, promising voters he will be able to quickly translate his experience working with Murtha into bringing new jobs to the district, which suffers an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent

Critz distinguished himself from Murtha by saying he opposed the unpopular health care bill and Wall Street bailout legislation supported by his late boss.

The Democrat will serve out the remainder of Murtha's term through the end of this year, but he and Burns are headed for a rematch in November.

They each won their party's primary for the chance to run for the full term that begins in 2011.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

 

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