The city of Johnstown’s political influence changed significantly when U.S. Rep. Mark Critz lost his re-election bid in November.
Critz, a resident of the Moxham section of town, fell to Republican Keith Rothfus, an Allegheny County lawyer, by a little less than 12,000 votes in their 12th Congressional District race. When Rothfus joins the House on Thursday, it will be the first time since 1949 no Johnstown resident will be in the lower chamber.
Rep. John Saylor (1949-1973) and Rep. John Murtha (1974-2010) previously served before Critz took office in 2010.
His pending departure has created political uncertainty for Johnstown, which has been the hub of its district for six decades.
Even though Critz, a Democrat, was an incumbent, much of the redesigned 12th was new to him.
The Republican-controlled state government reshaped the district when Pennsylvania lost a seat in the House, following the 2010 U.S. Census.
In the process, Johnstown’s importance within the 12th decreased.
“With so much of this district being Allegheny County – and Beaver, Lawrence (counties) being new – obviously redistricting was a disadvantage to me,” said Critz.
“But a primary where I got a little bit better known was helpful. We had some struggles. It was a R+6 district. I think we did a heckuva job.”
The redistricting put both Critz and Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, into the 12th, forcing them to run against each other in a rare member-versus-member primary.
Critz won that race by 2.4 percent.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.