AFL-CIO endorses Critz over Altmire in Pennsylvania Dem primary

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsed Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) over Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) Monday, making them the latest union to throw their support to Critz and showing how deeply unhappy organized labor is with Altmire.

The endorsement comes after the AFL-CIO's three local branches endorsed Critz. He also has locked up support from the AFSCME, the Teamsters, United Mine Workers, United Steelworkers and the Service Employees International Union.

"We're proud to endorse Congressman Critz in the 12th Congressional District," said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale. "He's the best candidate to represent the over 100,000 union members in [the district] who are looking for someone to fight for jobs and an economy that works for everyone."

Altmire infuriated unions in 2010 when he voted against Democrats' health insurance overhaul law after reportedly telling them he'd back it. Critz wasn't in office at the time and said he would have opposed the law, but hasn't taken heat from unions because he's been consistent on the issue.

Critz's campaign also released a poll Monday showing him trailing Altmire by seven points 45 percent to 38 percent. That's closer than the 10-point lead Altmire had in Critz's last internal poll, released one month ago. Altmire's campaign recently touted an internal poll that had him with a 24-point lead.

Altmire started off with the advantage in the member-on-member primary, which was created when Republicans eliminated Critz's district and threw the two together in one slightly Republican-leaning district. Altmire has represented about two thirds of the new district, while Critz has only represented about a quarter of it.

But unions remain very powerful in western Pennsylvania, especially in Democratic politics. If Critz can catch up to Altmire, the unions could make a big difference in turnout in the race — and the AFL-CIO promised that with their endorsement will come a get-out-the-vote campaign on Critz's behalf.

This post was updated at 5:35 p.m.