Mark Critz defeats Jason Altmire, Matt Cartwright beats Tim Holden

at 10:53 PM ET, 04/24/2012

Two conservative Democrats lost their seats in Pennsylvania tonight thanks to the state’s new congressional map.

Rep. Mark Critz beat Rep. Jason Altmire in a highly competitive member-vs-member Democratic primary for the 12th district, while Rep. Tim Holden (D) was defeated in a primary by lawyer Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania’s new 17th district.

Altmire represented about two thirds of the new 12th district, and early polls suggested he had the edge in the race.
Congressman Mark Critz shows his ID to Kelly Swanson, minority inspector at precinct 17-2, as he prepares to vote in primary elections, at St. Patrick's Church Hall, in Johnstown, Pa. Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (Todd Berkey - AP)

But organized labor invested heavily in taking down Altmire, in part for his vote against the health-care law, and former President Bill Clinton endorsed Critz. (Critz is no liberal either; he also opposed health-care reform, although he wasn’t in office at the time and voted against repealing the law.)

While Altmire won the majority of voters in his territory, turnout in Cambria County was huge and almost entirely in Critz’s favor.

“Congratulations to my colleague Congressman Mark Critz on his hard-fought and well-deserved victory in the primary,” Altmire said in a statement. “He has my full support as his campaign moves on to the fall.”

A Blue Dog Democrat and another health-reform opponent, Holden represented a central Pennsylvania swing district for the past ten years. But Republican-controlled redistricting gave him a safe Democratic district where he was little known to the vast majority of voters.

That created an opening for Cartwright, a Scranton lawyer who stars ina popular legal segment on the evening news.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a new super PAC aimed at taking down incumbents in both parties, spent over $200,000 on the race. But the League of Conservation Voters actually spent more to defeat Holden, who often supported Republican energy policy.

Holden raised $911,813 for the race; Cartwright raised $707,043, including $390,000 from his own pocket.

Former assistant district attorney Kathleen Kane (also endorsed by Clinton) beat former congressman Patrick Murphy (who had the support of Obama adviser David Axelrod and former governor Ed Rendell) in the Democratic primary to serve as Pennsylvania’s attorney general. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed ran uncontested in the Republican primary.

Self-funded coal-mining millionaire Tom Smith won a five-way Republican primary to take on Sen. Bob Casey (D). While the moderate Casey isn’t considered vulnerable, Pennsylvania is a swing state and Smith could force Democrats to spend some money on this race.

 
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