Skip to content

Meet the HR3 Ten: 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.

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!


  1. Alyssa wrote:

    Please sign the petition to Tell the DCCC to Stop Funding Anti-Choice Democrats:

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  2. thecaitd wrote:

    Listen. What we’re missing here is the union aspect. I’m from Critz’s district, and the folks there are as pro-fetus, pro-gun as they come. But it’s coal mining country, and FDR did some good shit for those people back in the day, so everyone votes Democrat so as not to upset United Mine Workers. And that’s the real story. Trust me, SWPA-ers would be Republican if it weren’t for UMWA.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  3. carrie wrote:

    I think this is a great series, and I’m really glad you’ve decided to post Jaffe’s work HR3 Ten. One small quibble, though- what’s with the equivocating on Catholics?

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

    She mentions Critz’s religious affiliation, then basically says it doesn’t mean anything that he has the affiliation. You can’t have it both ways; you either use his Catholicism as a point against him, or you can leave it out. It doesn’t make sense to use the fact to discredit Critz, then backtrack to the “there are plenty of pro-choice Catholics.”
    I hope this isn’t derailing; it just jumped out at me as a hypocritical point in an otherwise strong and persuasive post.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  4. aravind wrote:

    @Carrie: I don’t think it’s having it both ways, just really nuanced.

    It’s saying that there are pro-choice and anti-choice Catholics (in the US/world) but that the latter are the primary (only?) major block of anti-choice people within the Democratic Party. Basically, Catholicism isn’t a good predictor for who supports and dislikes abortion, but those of them that are anti-choice are an interesting demographic.

    Does that make more sense?

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink