ENG: Mark Stephen Critz (born January 5, 1962) is a former U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, having served since the special election in 2010. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, which is located in the southwestern portion of the state, stretches from Johnstown to the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
Critz was the district director for the 12th's longtime congressman, John Murtha. Following Murtha's death, Critz won the May 2010 special election with 53% of the vote to complete Murtha's term. Critz was sworn in on May 20.
Critz won a full term in November 2010 to represent the 12th District in Congress. He was defeated in November 2012 by Republican challenger Keith Rothfus.
Early life, education, and pre-congressional career
Critz was born and raised in Irwin, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He is the son of Mary Lou (née Rybacki) and William S. Critz. His father was of Slovak descent, and his mother is of half-Polish and half-Italian ancestry.
In 1987, Critz obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania.
“Most of my friends, their folks worked in the mill or were small business owners,” Critz told the National Journal about his upbringing. “There were hundreds of thousands of families that relied on steel directly, and when that started to fade the area got hit pretty hard.” National Journal wrote that after his college graduation, Critz “struggled to find work in the decimated local economy.” He “left the region for a job managing a Roy Rogers restaurant in Wilmington, Del,” in 1987. In addition to the Roy Rogers, he served as a manager for Spherical Concepts and American Eagle Outfitters.
He then took landscaping and construction jobs before becoming a volunteer for Congressman John Murtha in 1994. Four years later, he took a paying job on Murtha's staff, eventually rising to the position of district director. Critz focused on district issues, serving as Murtha’s liaison to the Flight 93 Memorial committee and the Que Creek Mine disaster site.
Politics PA reported that “Critz...attended a 2005 meeting with defense contractors and lobbyists and offered the Congressman’s [Murtha's] support for an earmark project that ended in the criminal convictions of three men.”
Critz was recognized for his service to the military when he was awarded the Patrick Henry Award by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).
It is the highest civilian award issued by the National Guard.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - Special 2010 election
After Murtha's death in February 2010, Critz, with the support of Murtha's widow and the Democratic Party, decided to run for the vacant seat in a May special election. He announced on February 22, 2010 that he would resign his position with the 12th Congressional District and seek the Democratic nomination to run in the special election, which was held on May 18, 2010. In the wake of his selection to run in the special election, Critz released a statement saying “he would make economic development his No. 1 priority in Congress.” On March 8, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Executive Committee followed the recommendation of the district officials by nominating Critz.
Of the 49 votes cast by the Committee members, Critz received 30.
Critz was endorsed by Vice President Joe Biden, who also campaigned for Critz in early 2010. In March 2010, Critz received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO of Pennsylvania. Critz received an 86% approval rating from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In April he received an endorsement from the United Mine Workers. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare endorsed Critz.
Critz defeated Republican nominee Tim Burns 53%-45%.
Regular 2010 election
In 2010, Critz spent a total of $2,428,377.66 on his campaign.
His top contributors were Progeny Systems, Mepco LLC, and Concurrent Technologies. Critz defeated Burns in a rematch 51%-49%.
Critz decided to run in the newly redrawn 12th district despite the fact that he currently represents just 29% of the new CD. He defeated fellow moderate Democrat Jason Altmire in the Democratic primary, despite the fact that Altmire previously represented 66% of the new 12th District. Critz was defeated by Republican challenger Keith Rothfus 52%-48%.
Critz voted for Congressional adjournment in Sept 2010. Adjournment foes sought an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts before the November elections. The adjournment resolution passed 210-209. He voted against the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which passed the House in July 2010 by a vote of 239-192.
Critz received a 100% approval rating from both The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. In 2009, he received a 50% approval rating from the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and a 100% approval rating from the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and the National Association for the Self-Employed gave Critz a 100% approval rating. He received an 85% approval rating from The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and he received a 50% approval rating from the interest group for Federally Employed Women. He opposes "Cap and Trade" and emissions trading in the American Clean Energy and Security Act. On October 12, 2011 Critz voted against free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. He says that he supports fair trade.
Critz believes "Social Security is a contract between the government and Americans who have spent their entire lives working, and it is one the government must honor. I will fight all schemes to gamble your social security on the stock market." He opposes privatization and a higher retirement age.
Critz describes himself as pro-life, and has received a 100% approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He received a 0% approval from Planned Parenthood. He voted no on July 1, 2010 to limit Afghanistan military funding to withdrawal and other specified purposes and to require a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also voted no on March 17, 2011 to removing troops from Afghanistan.
Critz, his wife Nancy, and their two children, reside in Johnstown.
January 7, 2013