California Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman (left) and Howard Berman appear to be preparing to run in the same Democratic-leaning West San Fernando Valley district.
First off, Republicans divide and conquer some of the GOP territory in Critz’s amoeba-shaped 12th district. His predecessor and former boss, the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), worked for years to save the district in previous redistricting battles, but Republicans would prefer to cut up the territory and move heavily Democratic Johnstown to another area.
Meanwhile, Altmire has become a perennial GOP target on the northwest side of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Republicans have failed to knock off Altmire since he defeated then-Rep. Melissa Hart (R) in 2006.
Typically, the more junior Member has a disadvantage in these races, and Critz came to Congress only a little more than a year ago. But Critz has already made it clear he will not go down without a fight, campaigning heavily in the district and working local party meetings.
Critz is also more likely to have a key coalition on his side: organized labor. Local unions are not pleased with Altmire for his more moderate voting record, including voting against the Democratic-led health care overhaul last year. Critz was not in Congress yet when Members voted on the controversial bill.
The question of who has the upper hand in this race will depend on the geography of the new district. Given population movement in the region, that should be Altmire.