No other House Member has survived more tough races in the past two years than Rep. Mark Critz (D). And it’s only going to get harder for him.
In 2010, Critz won a competitive, high-stakes special election to succeed his boss, the late Rep. John Murtha (D). Republicans rarely attempted to unseat Murtha during his 36 years in Congress, but they spent nearly seven figures to defeat Critz in one of their most embarrassing losses of the cycle.
It got worse for the GOP. While Republicans swept seats all over the country in November 2010, Critz narrowly defeated the same opponent he faced in the special, businessman Tim Burns (R). Over the course of six months, House Republicans spent $1.5 million on two failed attempts to win this district.
Last year, Republicans redrew the district to make it more conducive to pickup. They started by forcing Critz and Rep. Jason Altmire (D) into a primary in the same district. The redrawn district’s composition favored Altmire, but Critz won by 4 points in April.
After all this, Critz still faces his hardest race yet in November. He’s running on the ballot with a president that southwestern Pennsylvanians don’t view favorably, and his redrawn 12th district is more Republican than ever.
Just days after his primary victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee made a rare early ad buy blasting Critz. House Republicans view this November as their best shot yet to pick up this seat — and they’re right.
Utah's 2nd district: Rep. Jim Matheson
Rep. Jim Matheson (D) has been a regular face on Roll Call’s Top 10 Most Vulnerable list in his six-term Congressional career. He’s beat the odds every time, but this cycle will present his greatest challenge yet.
The Blue Dog Democrat is a strong campaigner and a political survivor. But he represents a GOP district that voted for Sen. John McCain with 58 percent in 2008.
Matheson might have finally met his match in Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love (R), a black Mormon and a dynamic candidate who has quickly become a top candidate in the eyes of the House GOP strategists. Republicans are more hopeful than ever that they can pick up this seat — especially with Romney on top of the ticket in this heavily Mormon state.
Matheson decided to run for re-election in the new 4th district instead of the redrawn 2nd district, which he currently represents. The political composition of the new district has a similar political profile to his current seat, but it’s mostly new territory for him. Matheson is fairly well-known in the district already because it shares a media market with his current district.
Nonetheless, this cycle marks the GOP’s best shot to finally catch Matheson.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.