We’re pleased with the job Mark Critz has done in representing the 12th Congressional District since winning a special election in May.
And we’ve been disappointed in what his opponent, Tim Burns, has done – and what he hasn’t done – since losing the special election but winning the Republican primary.
For those reasons, we strongly endorse Critz to return to Washington, D.C., as this region’s representative in the U.S. House.
From the earliest days of the spring campaign right through the fall, Critz has focused on the concerns of his district, sometimes clashing with his own party leaders.
While Democrats pushed for cap-and-trade regulations on the coal industry, Critz opposed the measure – recognizing coal’s importance in our region. He is pro-life and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association – both more consistent with his district than his party leadership.
We believe Critz has matured since stepping forward to run for the office formerly held by his boss, the late John P. Murtha – who died in February.
He has been building relationships in the House. More importantly, he has been bolstering relationships with the communities that make up the 12th district.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount in 41⁄2 months,” he said of his time as a congressman, and we think it’s evident in his growing understanding of how work gets done at the Capitol and on the ground back home.
Critz says he would support tax breaks for small businesses, fight for trade initiatives to protect domestic jobs and push to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs to other countries.
We have urged Critz to support a repeal of the health-care bill, which he opposes. He has said he would support amending the bill to make it more functional and affordable.
Critz has a clear edge in his relationship with the people and businesses of the district.
We chastised Burns in the spring for his comment that he planned to reach out to businesses leaders but had not done so. We see little evidence that he has done so even now – months later.
In fact, we see Burns’ approach as built upon attacks without action.
Burns has said he supports job-creation programs, yet has not offered a plan for how he would be a player in making that happen.
In the fall campaign, Burns has continued his efforts to tie Critz to Democratic leaders and turn the 12th district race into a national referendum on Washington. In doing so, he has failed to build relationships with local companies and organizations, and has not made himself a candidate of the people.
Burns also refused to meet with our editorial board, with his campaign citing our endorsement of Critz before the special election and a perceived bias in our approach to this race.
This is a clear sign of weakness for this candidate.
Those fortunate enough to be elected to the U.S. House will face many moments of disagreement and instances where debate and discussion are required. Surely, the environment will be more challenging and more contentious on the House floor than it could ever be in our conference rooms.
For all we know, Burns could be a strong representative of the 12th district. But he has done nothing to demonstrate how he would handle that enormous responsibility.
He is trying to win the election without illustrating how he would serve if elected.
Voters should see through that strategy.
We are disappointed with both sides for the negative messages they have spewed throughout the campaign. For example, Critz accused Burns of shipping jobs overseas when he sold his company, but provided no proof that this had happened. And Burns claimed Critz cast “the deciding vote” when Congress took a recess without taking action on expiring tax cuts, and repeatedly attempted to connect Critz to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In the end, we prefer the candidate who has offered plans for the district and who has developed a relationship with the communities, businesses and people of this region.
“I went to Washington to represent the 12th district,” Critz said.
He added: “I feel strongly about what I’m doing.”
So do we.
Voters of the 12th district should send Critz back to Washington on Nov. 2.