Despite having the early lead in most polls and, more importantly, nearly 65% of his old 4th district in the new 12th district, Altmire was not able to withstand the labor union support Critz received. While just 29% of Critz’s old district remained in the new 12th district, approximately 40% of the final vote tallied came from Critz’s old district. The final margin was just over 1,200 voters out of nearly 63,000 votes cast.
Altmire, an executive with the large University of Pittsburgh Medical Center prior to joining congress, was one of the few Democrats who voted against the President’s health care package in 2010 and generally had a much more conservative record on economic issues than the voting record of Critz. As a result, over 20 labor unions supported Critz and provided his campaign with a significant infusion of grassroots workers, particularly in the part of the old district that remained in the new district.
Following redistricting and the retirement of the incumbent in 1992, Rep. Tim Holden (D) first ran and began his twenty year career in Congress. Having recently risen to be the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation and following redistricting in 2012, Tim Holden remained in the 17th congressional district with only 21% of the district remaining in the newly drawn district. In addition to a significant geography change, the new district clearly has a more liberal bend than the moderate to conservative district Holden had been representing. As a member of the high profile Blue Dog Coalition, Holden became much more vulnerable in a primary and was defeated 57% to 43% by attorney Matt Cartwright (D), who was supported by several liberal organizations. Cartwright now faces Scranton Tea Party Leader Laureen Cummings (R) in the general election.
The defeat of Altmire and Holden marks the exit of two more members who are generally viewed as more moderate congressman.
In what has been a rather quiet U.S. Senate contest to date, Republican voters threw their support behind western Pennsylvania businessman, Tom Smith (R), who received nearly 40% of the vote in a five way primary battle and who will now challenge incumbent Senator Bob Casey (D) in the general election. Smith has immediately shifted his attention to Casey by focusing on what he describes as the many economic mistakes made by Casey and his party leaders. Casey won the Democratic primary with over 80% of the vote.
By spending heavily over his opponents, Smith was able to fend off Steve Welch, who had the support of more established Republicans and many considered to be more electable in the fall. While the support for the incumbent is not deep, Casey remains a strong favorite to remain in the U.S. Senate.
In what has now become a foregone conclusion, Mitt Romney (R) easily won the Pennsylvania presidential primary and also recorded victories in Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island. The timeline for Romney to mathematically clinch the required number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination will now accelerate while the campaign trail rhetoric for Romney, and the President, will be completely focused on a general election matchup.
With the Republican nomination no longer being a competitive battle, the absence of this race will have some minor impact on the outcome of some of the upcoming congressional primary battles in states like North Carolina and Indiana.