The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 17, 2010

Down to the wire

House hopefuls clash over message on eve of special vote

— Messages did not change significantly Monday as campaigns in several hotly contested races made final pushes for voter support in today’s primary election.

At Richland Township Fire Department, three endorsed Republican candidates took the stage, urging voters to tell Washington and Harrisburg they have had “enough.”

State Attorney General Tom Corbett, a candidate for governor, headlined the afternoon rally and was joined by lieutenant governor hopeful Jim Cawley, a Bucks County commissioner. But much of the focus was on Washington County businessman Tim Burns and his run in today’s special election for the 12th District Congressional seat left vacant with the February death of John Murtha.

Votes for Burns “will send a message that is going to reverberate throughout the Congress that the people of the United States have said, ‘Enough,’ ” Corbett said.

“And that message applies to Harrisburg.”

Meanwhile, Burns’ opponent, Democrat Mark Critz, was joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey at campaign stops in Washington, Pa. Locations included a restaurant, ice cream business and senior center. The Critz message continued to focus on his pledge to continue employment efforts he began as Murtha’s economic development director.

“I’ve laid out a jobs plan that will get folks back to work,” Critz said. “Bringing economic development to western Pennsylvania will be my top priority.”

Burns continued to direct his conservative message at the need for change in Congress, targeting President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This election is literally a referendum on the Obama-Pelosi agenda,” Burns said at the Richland event. “We are going to send a loud message to Washington that the American people are not going to stand for them not listening. We are going to take back this government.”

Corbett introduced Burns as the best candidate to send Pelosi the “enough” message.

“He is the key,” Corbett said, reaching toward Burns.

The Richland stop was part of a whirlwind last-day tour by Burns that began with breakfast at Waynesburg Airport in Greene County and included lunch and a phone bank visit in Indiana.

Burns will vote at 9:30 a.m. today at Wylandville Elementary School in Eighty Four.

He will then gather with supporters to watch the election returns at the George Washington Hotel on Main Street in Washington.

Critz wrapped up his campaign Monday night with a rally in Monessen, Westmoreland County. He plans to cast his vote at 9 a.m. today at St. Patrick’s church hall on Park Avenue in Johnstown. Critz and his supporters will hold their election-night gathering at the Holiday Inn on Market Street in Johnstown.

Sen. Arlen Specter also made a local appearance Monday, speaking to about 60 people at John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport. The barnstorming tour started at Erie International Airport and included stops at Harrisburg’s Capital City Airport, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre International Airport and Lehigh Valley International Airport. The Democratic incumbent wrapped up his campaign with a Philadelphia meet-and-greet.

Specter’s opponent in the Democratic primary, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, started his final sweep Monday morning in Pittsburgh with a number of stops, and moved on to Philadelphia for another citywide tour.

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