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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Politics

Gretchen Gailey

Washington, DC

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Union Endorsement Heats Up PA Race

April 23, 2010 - 8:02 PM | by: Gretchen Gailey

Democratic congressional candidate Mark Critz has received the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America. This plug for the candidate could give his campaign a needed boost after a recent Public Policy Poll has him down three points to his opponent, Republican Tim Burns.

In the Pennsylvania 12th District deep in the heart of the Appalachian mountains in western Pennsylvania, coal brings in the jobs and is home to two of the largest coal mines in the world. Even though it’s a conservative region, the district has been a Democratic stronghold for 36 years under the leadership and of congressional titan, Democratic Congressman John Murtha, until his untimely death this past winter. Murtha’s ability to bring in big money and big projects to the region, like the John Murtha Airport, won him re-election easily 19 times. Now with President Obama’s approval rating at an all time low in the district and voters disgruntled over health care reform, an opportunity has opened up for Republicans to recapture the seat.

The endorsement from the miners union carries clout in the district, and for voters the economy and jobs is what matters most. The area is attempting to diversify in order to escape the economic downturn and loss of jobs, so they are turning to their roots, coal. And with “clean coal ” technology at the heart of the race this endorsement is key.

“His (Critz) commitment to creating jobs and bringing economic development to our region is unparalleled,” said Edward D. Yankovich, Jr., International District 2 Vice President of the UMWA.

Critz served as a longtime aide to Murtha, who passed away a few months ago due to complications with gallbladder surgery. The special election on May 18th to fill his vacant seat has garnered national attention because of the potential flip and serves as a bellweather for upcoming 2010 races across the country.

His opponent Burns said today in response to the endorsement that Critz is no friend to the coal industry.

“It is disingenuous for Mark Critz to talk about promoting coal jobs in the district, while this week he is on a fundraising tour outside the district with Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden who clearly have an anticoal and anticoal jobs agenda.”

Critz says that’s simply not true.

“I’ll work hard to bring jobs and economic development to Western Pennsylvania. That includes pushing for investments in clean coal and alternative energy production because that will help create jobs and grow our local economy.”

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