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Pennsylvania - 4th District

Incumbent -- Jason Altmire (D) ; Defeated by Rep. Mark Critz, D, in a primary on April 24, 2012

Likely Democratic
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

Very few Democratic incumbents in marginal districts have easy re-election contests this cycle.

But Altmire might be one of them. He is running in the suburban Pittsburgh district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried by 11 points in the 2008 presidential election.

Democrats think the sophomore centrist is relatively well-positioned to return to Washington, D.C., for a third term.

He has dominated Republican challenger Keith Rothfus in fundraising for most of the cycle. And he has worked hard to remind voters of his moderate positions that gave him the 10th lowest "party unity" score in his first term.

Rothfus, an attorney and former federal homeland security official, trounced his GOP primary opponent by more than 30 points -- winning a surprise upset over the candidate preferred by national Republicans.

Republicans believe that this race, especially because of the makeup of the district, could break in their favor late.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 4th District begins in the southwestern corner of Mercer County and runs down the state's western border before heading east to wrap around the northern and eastern sides of Pittsburgh. Historically a top steel producer, this one-time blue-collar district has yet to fully recover from economic hardships and has been battered by recent downturns.

The area's major highways and its proximity to Pittsburgh make the 4th attractive to commuters as well as to new and expanding companies. Although abandoned steel mills still line the rivers here, other job sectors are beginning to develop. The 4th's health care industry is a major employer, as are a growing number of computer firms. Larger companies, such as Philips Respironics in Murrysville and Alcoa-owned TRACO in Cranberry Township, bring jobs to the area. TRACO plans to expand, but a weak national homebuilding market has hurt Aliquippa-based wallboard manufacturer USG.

The district has yet to regain the population it had during its booming steel days, but some areas, including parts of southern Butler County, are experiencing residential growth and host a growing white-collar, well-educated workforce. Outside of Pittsburgh's exurbs, smaller communities produce numerous agricultural products, including corn, soybeans, dairy and winter wheat.

Although union tradition has kept the district Democratic at the local level, Republicans can break the Democratic grip. The 4th's GOP base is found mainly in small farming communities and wealthy Pittsburgh suburbs such as Franklin Park, Fox Chapel and Marshall Township. Democrat Jason Altmire has held on to his U.S. House seat even though Republican presidential candidate John McCain took 55 percent of the district's presidential vote in 2008 and a pair of Republicans, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett, found widespread support throughout the district in 2010.

Major industry

Health care, steel, manufacturing

cities

Plum, 27,126; New Castle, 23,273

notable

Oliver B. Shallenberger invented the electric meter, which indicated the amount of electrical energy dispensed or applied, in Rochester; New Castle calls itself the fireworks capital of the United States.

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