Meet Mark Critz.

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten; find all posted to date here. Originally posted at RH Reality Check.

Meet Mark Critz. He got a huge chunk of cash from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last election to hold the seat he’d won in a special election after the death of his old boss, John Murtha. How huge? $2,107,202.86

Murtha was best known for coming out loudly and angrily against the Iraq war–as the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a veteran, he was “taken seriously” the way us antiwar ladies usually aren’t. But Murtha wasn’t a dove by nature: he’d voted for the war in ’02, making his claims of being “pro-life” once again a little iffy. 

Critz follows in his boss’s footsteps and opposes our right to our own bodies–he’s a cosponsor of HR3 and HR358–the one that would let us die if a doctor thought that saving us might injure a fetus. 

Real Clear Politics has some dirt on Critz from his first campaign: 

“I’m pro life and pro gun. That’s not a liberal,” Critz says in his own spot.

Critz’s camp also says he opposes a proposed cap-and-trade law, something Murtha voted for when the House first acted on it last year.

These positions reflect the unique character of the district. Democrats have a heavy registration advantage on paper, and Murtha won his seat consistently with little trouble. But it was the only seat in the country carried by John Kerry in 2004 but not by Barack Obama four years later. In the heart of steel and coal country, the Democrats here are far more conservative than the national party, as Murtha was on many issues.

While Critz walks this fine line, his opponent is calling him out. To coincide with Tuesday night’s fundraiser, Republican Tim Burns’ campaign issued a release accusing him of “political double talk,” asking: “If we can’t trust candidate Mark Critz to be honest about his real support for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, why would we ever send him to Congress?” 

“Unique,” eh? Let’s just take five seconds to be honest about why Barack Obama didn’t carry that district. It’s the same reason that I and other people canvassing for Obama got chased off of Democratic-registered doorsteps in Pennsylvania during the Democratic primaries. Race. 

The district is white and working-class: these were the voters that Richard Trumka was speaking to in his famous call-out to union members to support Barack Obama. “There’s not a single good reason for any worker, especially any union member, to vote against Barack Obama. And there’s only one really, really bad reason to vote against Barack Obama. And that’s because he’s not white. And I want to talk about that reason, because I saw it in Pennsylvania in the primaries.” 

Kristen McHugh notes “SW PA (Pittsburgh area, Allegheny County) would probably support far more progressive candidates than we get, but the machine rejects them, even at the mayoral level.” She sent me this post, which has more information about the 12th District, gerrymandering, and interestingly enough calls out from the Right the same things I call out from the left: 

Puzzling, isn’t it, why a pro-life, pro-gun politician belongs to the political party that is neither pro-life nor pro-gun. But I suppose the 2 to 1 Democratic predominance in the district might have something to do with that. And Critz had better have very good balance: the longer he tries to straddle that fence over Obamacare, the more likely he is to slip up and hurt himself in a very painful fall.

As in, Republicans aren’t buying it, either.  But John Kerry was a clearly pro-choice politician–anyone else remember the controversy over denying him communion when he was running for president?  And he carried that district in the year that Bush still won the national election. You don’t HAVE to be antichoice to win these areas. (You may still have to be white.)

I’m getting off topic, though. So let’s return to Critz!

Critz’s top donor is a company called Progeny Systems, a defense department contractor, but not by much. Unsurprisingly, given his blue-collar district, he got a lot of union money too. 

He’s a Catholic, like most antichoice Democrats (but certainly not all of them–and certainly there are plenty of prochoice Catholics as well). 

He voted against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and just this week voted to extend the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act–even 26 Republicans broke with their party on that one.  Like Shuler, he voted against the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and he gets a 0% rating from Project Vote Smart as he’s refused to give them his positions. He does get an A from the NRA, though. 

None of the bills he’s sponsored thus far have been enacted by Congress.

Critz is on the Committee on Armed Services, the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, as well as the Committee on Small Business.

All of this could become irrelevant, though, if Critz’s heavily gerrymandered district is redistricted out of existence, as Republicans took control of Pennsylvania again this year. 

The party invested heavily in Critz despite his “woulda, shoulda, coulda” comments that he’d have voted against health care reform and climate legislation and his demonstrated opposition to LGBT equality. And was that necessary? 

After all, as the Christian Science Monitor notes, “Murtha had voted for health-care reform and cap-and-trade, for example, while Critz says he opposed both.”  Sure, Murtha had been there forever, but was it really necessary for his successor, wrapped in his mantle, to come out to his right? 

You can ask Critz yourself, of course. Email him through his website, or:

1022 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C.  20515
Phone: (202) 225-2065
Fax: (202) 225-5709

And you can once again get in touch with the DCCC and ask them why they spent $2,107,202.86 on Mark Critz. 

430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500 

Meet Heath Shuler Here. Meet Joe Donnelly next!

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7 comments for “Meet Mark Critz.

  1. Nicholas
    February 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “Sure, Murtha had been there forever, but was it really necessary for his successor, wrapped in his mantle, to come out to his right?”

    Well, since Critz won the 2010 November election by 2,886 votes out of 185,226 votes cast (or 1.5%), I’m going to say the answer is probably “yes.” Unless, of course, you can show me some polling where the positions you’ve criticized him for taking are popular with his constituents.

    And I’m with you on the the merits of your arguments, but unless the voters of a particular district agree with your arguments and are willing to turn out to the polls in support of said arguments, a candidate will lose.

  2. Morgan
    February 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    So, if I’m understanding this right, ‘pro-life’ can now mean…
    a. You are okay with leaving pregnant women to die.
    b. You are okay with people keeping deadly weapons in their homes with minimal restrictions.
    c. You are okay with people dying for lack of a decent healthcare system.
    d. You are okay with sticking your head in the sand over climate change, which may well end up killing more people in the long run than any of the above.


  3. Lauren
    February 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

    @Morgan (see above) – I just wanted to tell you that I am also completely appalled at what is happening with these issues, and I love the way that you break it down to be so simple and straight forward!

  4. Jim
    February 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Morgan: Right.

    You got it, Morgan.

    This is my take on it, form having watched this shape up for 40 years: the whole anti-abortion (to use the most lenient term I can think of) position is a membership badge for a whole body of resistance to all the social changes of the 60/70s and probably really even of the New Deal. Anti-abortions is essential a reaction to the whole Sexual Revolution, all of it, that really got broad-based with the Pill. But that hardly explains all the energy. It’s also about anger over the destruction of Jim Crow, about reacting to all those furrin white ethnic types moving into the middle class while we all get left behind, and there’s lots more.

    Look at the ethnic and regional distribution of this sentiment. Not that there aren’t strange bedfellows, because those furrin white ethnic types have their own authoritarian impulses that align soime of them with the anti-choice crowd – see also Pat Buchanan, Sean Hannity, Santorum….all the paleocons. But in the main the pattern holds. Look at exactly where the labor movement hit a brick wall all those years ago, and why.

  5. Nicholas
    February 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm


    You crafted the message about as awesomely as it could have been done. Now we’re going to have to repeat it loudly and proudly for the next decade or so:

    Dear women: these legislators want you to die.

    And then we’ll have to make sure they actually go vote.

  6. Yerry Seinfeld
    February 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    “None of the bills he’s sponsored thus far have been enacted by Congress.”
    – HR 3 is just a way of getting attention. It would never get past a Democratic Senator and President. To paraphrase Chris Rock, this is like getting mad at a tiger for doing tiger stuff. Pro-lifers are just doing what got them elected, and voting for pro-choice candidates is more important than worrying about these dead end bills.

  7. natalie
    February 18, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I have a sneaking suspicion that all the HR3 stuff is propaganda used for inciting hyperbole and distracting us from actual issues (on both sides right and left). So… my question is… I understand standing against these things, but likelier than not they won’t pass. So why partake in hyperbole and propaganda? Also… isn’t it interesting that the female body is the setting for this propaganda & hype? I’m curious as to what people think about that.

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