Leo Gerard Greets Mark Critz
GOP-led Redistricting Unsettles Old Patterns
By Timothy McNulty
Jan 23., 2012 – The United Steelworkers union announced its support this morning of U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, in the increasingly competitive race for the new 12th congressional district.
Republican mapmakers combined the seats of Mr. Critz and fellow Democratic incumbent Jason Altmire of McCandless, forcing them to face off in the state’s primary April 24th. The endorsement by the union, and its 32,000 active and retired members, should help Mr. Critz introduce himself to voters in Mr. Altmire’s backyard in suburbs north of the city.
"Mark has always been there, not just for the Steelworkers union, but for working families," said union president Leo Gerard at the announcement at union headquarters Downtown.
Every local union president in the new district (which includes parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland counties) endorsed Mr. Critz, and the union has committed to do phone banks, mailers and door-knocking on the candidate’s behalf. Steelworker and retiree volunteers will also phone members of other unions to urge support of Mr. Critz, the USW’s political director Tim Waters said.…
[Text of USW Statement at Close of Article]
Not a word was said about Mr. Altmire at the event, as union officials said they hoped to keep the primary campaign a positive one. The most heated rhetoric came when talking about fighting for manufacturing and working class jobs.
Mr. Critz was a former aide to late Rep. Jack Murtha, and the candidate said Mr. Murtha taught him that "sometimes you have to throw elbows. You have to stick your neck out. And I haven’t been afraid to fight anyone when it comes to the values of working men and women, and our seniors."
Labor support is key for Mr. Critz in his primary battle with Mr. Altmire, who currently represents more of the new district than Mr. Critz, has been in Congress longer, and at last count had more campaign funds. Mr. Critz has lately announced endorsements too from the United Mine Workers and the Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania.
On the Republican side, state Minority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, is set to officially join the race for the 12th District sometime this week, facing off against Edgeworth attorney Keith Rothfus, who came within 2 points of beating Mr. Altmire in 2010. Timothy McNulty: email@example.com
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USW Statement on Endorsing Critz:
The United Steelworkers (USW) today endorsed U.S. Rep. Mark Critz for re-election as the representative of southwestern Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard said Critz has the endorsement of the international union, all of the USW local union presidents in the 12th Congressional District and SOAR, the union’s retiree organization.
The USW represents more than 32,000 active and retired workers in the union-dense 12th District, which encompasses all of Greene and portions of Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
Gerard said Critz, a former aide to the late Congressman Jack Murtha, knows the importance of manufacturing and industry and stands for industrial policies that will create good American jobs.
“He has always been there on the issues that matter to us,” Gerard said.
Critz, a Johnstown Democrat, said he was humbled by the endorsement and promised to continue to stand up for working men and women in Pennsylvania.
“I went to Congress to fight, to fight for this area … I’ve never been afraid to fight anyone when it comes to the values of working men and women, and our seniors,” he said.
“I’ve worked every day, every single day trying to create jobs back here in Western Pennsylvania and trying to uphold the values of the middle class, of working men and women, making sure that the schemes of Republicans in Congress don’t attack things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. It’s fight. We have to stand together.”