Three Democratic House members face rough sledding in their Pennsylvania primary contests Tuesday.
Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz are in a vicious dogfight, thanks to redistricting, which means that one of them will be sent home. Meanwhile, centrist Rep. Tim Holden must defeat a strong liberal candidate — attorney Matt Cartwright, who has financed his own campaign and has posted plenty of TV ads, The Hill
Republicans were able to create the Altmire-Critz contest, as they controlled the redistricting process in the state legislature. It also was redistricting that forced the moderate Holden to run in a much more liberal district.
In the Altmire-Critz tussle, the former has the advantage of already representing about two-thirds of the new district. But almost all of the unions in the area, which are quite powerful, support Critz out of objections to Altmire’s vote against the healthcare reform law.
Critz also has some major star power behind him. Former President Bill Clinton, who is still quite popular in the area, has endorsed him. Critz was once a top staff member for the late Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who was close to both Clintons.
Altmire jumped to an early lead in polls, but a Tribune-Review/WPXI-TV survey released last week showed Critz leading 43 percent to 39 percent. Whoever wins will have another difficult encounter against Republican tea partyer Keith Rothfus.
As for the Holden-Cartwright race, an internal Cartwright poll released last week showed him leading Holden 42 percent to 36 percent. But the outcome is expected to be close.
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