Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown went to western Pennsylvania Friday to help a fellow Republican do the same thing he did in January: win control of a federal lawmaker's seat long held by a powerful Democrat.
In front of about 125 supporters on the steps of the county courthouse in Washington, Pa., outside Pittsburgh, Brown stumped for Tim Burns, who hopes to win the seat formerly held by U.S. Rep. John Murtha, who died in February.
Burns, a 42-year-old businessman who grew up in Murtha's hometown of Johnstown, is running in a special election Tuesday to finish Murtha's term and is largely expected to win his party's nomination to run for a full term in November. Longtime Murtha aide Mark Critz is Burns' opponent in the special election and the favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
"I asked to come and help him because I saw a low of similarities — somebody who was an outsider who was not beholden to any special interests and someone who will be an independent thinker and will be an independent voter in the other Washington," Brown said of Burns.
The race has drawn national attention, and both men spoke about whether Burns will join Brown, who won Democrat U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy's old seat in Massachusetts, and Republicans who defeated Democrat governors in Virginia and New Jersey, despite Democratic President Barack Obama's support.
"This race is literally a referendum on the Obama-Pelosi agenda," Burns said.
Brown wouldn't go as far as to call the race for Murtha's seat a referendum on the Obama administration. "I think it's just important to send good people in and we've been encouraging all Democrats, Republicans and independents to get out and vote for somebody different," he said.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in Murtha's old district by about 2-to-1. Brown was outnumbered 3-to-1 when he won Kennedy's seat.
Critz planned lower profile events in Johnstown Friday evening, a fish fry followed by a get out the vote rally. But he'll bring in a political star of his own on Sunday, when former President Bill Clinton stumps for him.
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