Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Congressman Altmire could have won

Why Jason Altmire could have won – and why the Democrats and unions played right into the hands of State Representative Mike Turzai and the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

You knew this post was coming.

I’ve never denied or been ashamed of my admiration for Congressman Altmire, and I’m really sad that our region will lose him at the end of the year. He’s done a great job voting for the district as a whole, and as a Democrat, I recognize that I probably won’t be represented by another Democrat in Congress in the next 10 years (if not longer). 

There are currently about 5,000 more Democrats in the new PA-12 than in the old PA-4.  There are fewer Democrats, though, in the new PA-12 than the old PA-12. So, for Critz, who boasted about being able to win in hard scenarios, this should have been a shoe-in for Critz, right?   

Wrong. 

Mark was an unknown to the Altmire voters in the new parts of PA-12 district. I can’t figure out if he thought he would win them regardless of what he did or if he thought they were a lost cause. If Critz thought they would automatically go with him, Critz and his team didn’t review voting trends in the area. If they thought they couldn’t win the Altmire voters, I’m wondering why he even ran in the primary considering the landscape of the new district. 

It’s been interesting to me to read the post-Election Day fall out regarding this race. The Post-Gazette even said last week that that no Democrat could have won. The Trib has been fairly quiet.  Twitter has been buzzing about how much money the Republicans spent trying to win it.

Congressman Altmire lost Allegheny County by fewer than 500 votes in 2010 to Keith Rothfus.  Mark Critz lost by 15,000 in Allegheny County.  Altmire won Beaver County by 9,000 votes in 2010. Mark Critz won by 1,000 in Beaver County.  Right there, Altmire is 23,500 votes ahead of Mark Critz’s performance last week.  
 
In 2008, Congressman Altmire won by 12% when Obama lost Altmire's congressional district by 11%.

In every plausible scenario involving Beaver and Allegheny counties, Altmire would have beaten Rothfus in 2012. In 2010 Altmire beat Rothfus when ever other Republican running in Altmire's congressional district won the district by double digits. Altmire ran ahead of every Democrat in the 2010 election cycle in his district, so to even insinuate that people don’t split their tickets is ludicrous. They did in 2006, 2008, and 2010 for Altmire, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have this year – especially considering that this wasn’t the Democratic wipe out year it was in 2010.

Money isn’t spent to help challengers who can’t beat their opponents.

In a year when Republicans picked up 70+ seats in the House, there’s a reason that outside money against Altmire was minimal – they couldn’t beat him. When Critz won the primary, the Republicans saw the pickup opportunity and targeted the seat knowing they could win. Don’t blame the outside money – blame the liberal Democrats and unions who supported Critz in the primary. 

I really hope that the liberal, activist Democrats in the party and these union folks who helped oust Altmire in April recognize what they’ve done. They played into the hands of the Pennsylvania Republican Party. In a 14 year stretch, we’ve elected a Democrat to Congress from northern Allegheny County three times– Jason Altmire’s six years in office. The awful Hart and Rothfus duo have never been beaten in a run for public office unless Altmire is on the ballot.
 
I have made this mistake before, I voted for Melissa Hart in 2000 because she appeared to be a moderate Republican. I was wrong, and I then had to deal with her until 2006 when Altmire came through and won this seat against all odds.  

I hope that Congressman-elect Rothfus represents our district with the level-headedness that Altmire did, but I’m extremely skeptical.


5 comments:

Mike said...

Nice writing. Jason Altmire was always the better general election candidate.

I think Mark Critz also alienated Democrats with his attacks on the Obama administration, and his support for many policies that were to the right of Jason Altmire. It is one thing be independent like Jason Altmire. It is quite another to throw the President under the bus. It made me feel like I could either support President Obama or Mark Critz, but not both. I think the decision many Democrats made was in favor of President Obama.

I also think the whole "War on Coal" thing doesn't resonate at all in Allegheny County. Setting aside that the real issue is that coal is losing out to natural gas, when I saw those commercials I thought about the quality my breathing instead of concern for coal jobs.

Anonymous said...

The people that voted for Keith Rothfus wouldn't have voted for Altmire. He was a commie just like Critz was.

Proud to live in PA12! The only Congressional District to get rid of 2 Democrats/Liberals/Commies!

Todd said...

Mike,

How can you say that people had to choose between Obama & Critz. Didn't you see the article that showed that Critz got 20K+ more votes than Obama and thousands more than Casey?

Whether or not Altmire would have won is debatable (sp?)but if Critz had not pushed off of Obama, he would have gotten clobbered.

The problem wasn't that Obama voters didn't vote for Critz. He did not get enough Romney voters to vote for him. How else would he have gotten 20K more votes than Obama.

You're free to have your own opinion on whether Altmire would have won. The fact is that we'll never know because he ran an inept campaign and lost despite representing the overwhelming majority of the district (2/3?)and having a lot more money.

As for Critz alienating Obama voters? That's just silly. Look at the numbers and the facts are pretty clear that Critz received THEIR votes - just not enough Romney supporter votes.

Mike said...

Four years ago Democrats in northern Allegheny County canvassed and made phone calls for both Obama and Altmire. They shared office space and when we went out we took literature for both. It was extremely well coordinated.

This year most active Democrats I know in the North Hills worked for Obama. There was a very enthusiastic group in McCandless that worked hard for him.

There may have been others, but I know of one person that was involved with Critz in the North Hills.

Even at the polls Critz wasn't pushed as hard as Obama and Casey. By then people should have made their minds up, but the lack of enthusiasm for Critz can make a difference.

Democrats may have voted for Critz over Rothfus, but we sure as hell didn't get our neighbors for vote for him.

Peter Madsen said...

Casting his very first vote today (1/4/12) representing us in PA-12, Rep. Rothfus voted against giving assistance to the victims of hurricane Sandy. During his campaign, I recall Rothfus saying he was a strong family man, but with this negative vote he refuses to help those families that have been devastated in NJ, NY and even PA.

I am embarrassed that both he and Toomey represent me. It looks like a long two years with this Rep, Refusnik.