The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 20, 2010

The voters have spoken

Critz must now back up his promises

The Tribune-Democrat

— In the end, voters in the 12th Congressional District were less concerned about bringing down Washington than about lifting up western Pennsylvania.

By a solid margin, voters chose Democrat Mark Critz over Republican Tim Burns in the special election Tuesday to succeed the late John P. Murtha.

And Democratic voters clearly told longtime Sen. Arlen Specter that his services were no longer needed, instead choosing Joe Sestak to face Republican candidate Pat Toomey in November.

Specter was a victim of both anti-incumbency sentiments and his own switch from Republican to Democrat – a clear bid to save his job.

In the 12th, there was no incumbent, with Murtha’s sudden death in February throwing the door open for a newcomer to fill the seat.

But voters went with Critz, a longtime Murtha staffer, over Burns – whose mantra was a national agenda over local concerns.

In both cases, we think the voters chose wisely.

We had endorsed Critz for exactly the reasons he won – experience in the district and a commitment to local issues.

We trust Critz will reward the voters with hard work and dedication to his district.

Both Critz and Burns won their 12th district primaries and will be back on the ballot together again in November.

Burns has six months to either shore up his platforms or rally more supporters. Chasing the latter course would likely bring similar results as those we saw in the primary.

Critz must now get to work being the congressman from the 12th district.

He has reached his dream of filling the shoes of his mentor.

But in the coming weeks he must begin to chart his own course as a freshman lawmaker.

And he must live up to his campaign promises to vote his conscience and fight for the needs of his district, even when such actions put him at odds with his own party leaders.

We wish Critz well as he takes his first step as a member of the House of Representatives.

There is much work to do.

And we wish Specter well, too – in his upcoming retirement.

He learned a lesson that all in politics should remember: The power is always with the voters.

And Tuesday, the voters spoke loudly and clearly in the most critical races in our state.