Ex-Rep. Mark Critz eyes possible comeback bid in Pennsylvania

Former Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) is leaning toward a comeback bid and plans to make a decision on whether to challenge Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) in the coming weeks. 

The potential for Critz’s return is good news for national Democrats, who hope to win back the GOP-leaning seat in 2014.

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Critz, who lost a hard-fought campaign to Rothfus in 2012, has been considering either a rematch or a run for lieutenant governor. 

According to a source close to the former congressman, he is leaning strongly toward a House run. 

Critz met last week with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Washington, D.C., to discuss his thinking.

“I think you’ll see an announcement from him sooner rather than later. He’s definitely going to run for something, and I think he’d prefer quite frankly to run for the House,” the source said.

Critz is aiming to make a decision by the end of the month so that, if he does run, he can start his campaign at the beginning of the new fundraising quarter at the start of July, the source said. 

A national Democratic strategist confirmed last week’s meeting between Critz and the DCCC.

“He’s been talking to the committee about what a race would look like and what a path to victory would look like,” the strategist said.

Since Critz lost his seat last fall, he’s been open about his interest to return to office at some point in the future.

The longtime former staffer for former Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has proven himself to be a tough campaigner. 

He took 48 percent of the vote against Rothfus in 2012 despite Mitt Romney winning the southwestern Pennsylvania district by 15 points.

Before that, the centrist congressman won a hard-fought primary battle against fellow Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). 

The two were thrown by Republican map drawers into one district that was mostly Altmire’s territory. 

Critz first won his seat after Murtha’s death in mid-2010, despite the toss-up nature of the old district and the GOP wave building that year.

The seat leans heavily Republican, and Rothfus may have the edge even if Critz runs. 

But Critz is likely the only Democrat who could put the seat in play, and his renewed interest in the seat is good news for Democrats hopeful that the party can cut into the GOP’s 33-seat edge in the House.

“He is obviously the strongest possible challenger,” the national Democratic strategist said.



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