New Castle News

August 17, 2013

John K. Manna: Former lawmaker eyes a new seat

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Why would a man decide to run for lieutenant governor?

Because he knows he can’t get elected to Congress?

It’s just a hunch on my part that this is the reason Mark Critz has decided to forego another run for Congress and instead run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor next year.

Critz, who had represented the 12th District since 2010, lost to Republican Keith Rothfus in November.

He announced his decision to seek the lieutenant governorship on Wednesday.

According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Critz said of his decision: “It’s 100 percent; I just haven’t made it official yet.”


Of course it’s official. We just haven’t seen the release of balloons yet.

Critz, who lives in Johnstown, concedes that redistricting in 2011 did not do him any favors, saying the new map took away his “whole southern tier of counties ...”

Essentially, redistricting made the district more favorable to Republicans, particularly if they live in northern Allegheny County, which is where Rothfus happens to reside.

Rothfus defeated Critz by less than three percentage points, but that was in a presidential election year when voter turnout is highest. Plus, speculation is that it may be tougher for Democrats to unseat Republicans next year given the current political climate.

Who knows? But apparently Critz believes he has a better chance of winning his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor among a field of at least a half dozen candidates who, right now, have little statewide name recognition.

Critz’s decision eliminates a major hurdle for Erin McClelland of Lower Burrell. McClelland, who founded and operates an addiction treatment clinic, announced a few months ago her intention to seek the Democratic nomination in the 12th District. The district includes eight municipalities in southern Lawrence County.

Despite the relatively small amount of money she has raised so far, McClelland has been assembling a campaign staff of people with impressive credentials. According to PoliticsPA, the staff includes a former political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a lead pollster for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential primary campaign.

At least on paper, this looks like it could be a spirited general election campaign between McClelland and Rothfus. Perhaps livelier and more interesting than a rematch between Critz and Rothfus.