Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Politico's Altmire/Critz Redistricting Scenario

Well, not surprisingly, the guy in D.C. got it wrong.

As any reader of the blog knows, I am a big fan of Congressman Altmire and keep up on news about him. Today's article was from a guy named Dan Hirschhorn in D.C. After reading the article, you can tell that there is no way that he lives in Pittsburgh. The summary of his article was this: Critz and Altmire will face each other in a 2012 primary because of redistricting. This is a favorable scenario for Critz as no one likes Altmire - including the party and labor. He then gets a quote from a guy that, upon looking him up, doesn't live anywhere near Pittsburgh. Mr. Hanna is someone that almost ran against Critz in the Special Election to fill Rep. Murtha's seat. He also gets a quote from a guy named Jack Shea who just doesn't like Altmire and tried to mount a run against Altmire in 2010. No quotes from the countless elected officials in Beaver and Lawrence Counties that stand behind Congressman Altmire.

There are lots of problems with Hirschhorn's assessment, though, and it was probably one of the worst articles I've read about the redistricting concepts so far. Not because of any damning news, but it was poorly written, poorly research, and just really far-fetched. First, Hirschhorn doesn't mention that this map was drawn up by someone who doesn't work for either party or the legislature. It was a random drawing by some kid who doesn't even live in Pennsylvania. While it's possible (and I guess somewhat likely) that this could occur, there are lots of situations that could play out. Writing an article that is bad news for anyone based on a color-by-number map is reckless and irresponsible. However, freedom of the press... write whatever you want, Dan.

Second, Hirschhorn writes that the geography would be favorable towards Critz. My first thought is, what is he smoking? So, I'm not sure what map Dan is looking at, but it appears that the current 4th Congressional District will get rid of northern Lawrence (all Republican), southern Butler/Cranberry (all Republican), and keep the areas where Congressman Altmire does really well - southern Lawrence, Beaver County, northern Allegheny County, and the AK Valley. The district would then go into Westmoreland County (where Altmire grew up) and reach out to Johnstown. Johnstown would be one of the smaller towns of the district. Congressman Altmire actually helped Critz in the AK Valley last year because of how well known Altmire is in his hometown. I'm not sure how this is map is a disadvantage to Altmire. Roughly 85% of his current district would remain the same and actually be stronger Democratically.

Third, the party and labor supported Arlen Specter. As much as I thought Arlen Specter would be our best candidate to win in November my question is: What is Mr. Specter doing now? He's retired. There is no big labor vote the distinguishes a difference between Critz and Altmire so why would the labor base of Beaver and Lawrence County abandon Altmire now?

Fourth, one of Dan's big points is that Altmire voted against the health care bill. Dan pulled a Tea Party line and claimed that 'Altmire infuriated many Democrats by publicly agonizing over his vote.' He didn't infuriated me, and I am glad that he waited until the actual bill was printed before he just blindly listened to Party leadership. Second, there is no mention of Critz's stance of being against the health care bill.

Overall, bad journalism. Bad research. I'm a progressive that understands Western Pennsylvania, and I think that Altmire is the only Democrat who could win in this district in the general election.

In full disclosure, you can read the article here:


Anonymous said...

As much as I dislike Altmire, Critz would be wosre. He is just a Jack Murtha copycat that only cares about spending our money in Johnstown!!!

Anonymous said...

This is an attack on labor and the Democratic Party - how dare you claim that you are 'progressive.'

People like you living in your fancy houses in the North Hills is what is wrong with America.

Keep voting for DINO's like Altmire and lets see what part of the middle class is left.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Beaver County and a Union member. Why would I not vote for Altmire who is with us on almost every issue. Because of 1 vote? Altmire has been good to Beaver County and good to labor. I respect my labor leadership, but they are way off base on the way they handled Altmire and the healthcare vote.

Anonymous said...

I'm a moderate Republican from Wexford and I voted for Altmire in 2010. I would consider switching parties for a Primary to vote for him in a Primary because he cares about us and not the D next to his name.

Anonymous said...

Altmire has done a tremendous job representing his district. At first blush it appears he'll be rewarded by the Rs in Harrisburg for his moderate positions. Labor??? If labor had any influence in Beaver County we wouldn't have 2 R state reps, and and a R state senator. In fact having labor's backing is the kiss of death for politicians.

NorthPGH Progressive said...

Anon 1:42: I'm sorry that you feel a Democrat that can actually win in this district is a DINO. I'd rather have someone with me on issues even half the time then almost never with some Republicans.

Congressman Altmire, more than anything else, has been true to his word about voting with the district before checking with party leaders. That is what I want from all of me elected officials, and why as a Democrat I always voted for Specter.

Mike said...

I have never seen anyone who checks the pulse of his district more than Congressman Altmire. It frustrates his progressive constituents a lot that he doesn't just vote the party line. What many of them don't realize is that if he had voted the party line, we would have Congressman Rothfus representing us right now who would be voting with the rest of the right wing tea-party crazies.

With redistricting, the demographics of his district will likely change as well. I hope he will continue to vote with this new district as much as he does now.

Jay said...

Actually, Dan Hirschorn is originally from eastern Pennsylvania and started the blog PA2010 to cover last years' elections, which was so popular it was merged with the Washington Post. Mr. Hirschorn has a good relationship with the majority of the elected officials throughout Pennsylvania which is one of the many reasons he was hired by Politico last fall.

Regardless if you personally agree or disagree with his analysis, I'm positive that he spoke to many members of the PA delegation before publishing the article.

So before you blatantly cheer-lead for Rep. Altmire in this hypothetical match-up, I suggest you follow your advice for Mr. Hirschorn and do some research before you publish your blog post.

NorthPGH Progressive said...


If you actualy read the post you would realize that I'm not going after Dan for his knowledge of the redistricting process. I have issues with his belief that Critz would have an advantage over Altmire. I think Dan doesn't understand Western PA as well as he thinks he does. I like a lot of Dan's work, but he can be way off base about the Pittsburgh area sometimes.