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: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/52167.html