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Mark Critz
Rep. Mark Critz (Official photo)

The Democratic primary in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district pits incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz against each other. David Nir sums up the contrast between the two:

Though Critz and Altmire are both among the least progressive members of the Democratic caucus, they've amassed their records in very different ways. Altmire, a Blue Dog, has a reasonably liberal record on social issues but votes quite conservatively on economic matters. Critz tends toward the opposite, and in particular, he's a strong backer of organized labor.
And in return, unions are strong backers of Critz in this primary, being fought on ground geographically much more favorable to Altmire. Politico's Alex Isenstadt identifies Altmire's vote against health care reform as the key factor in a strong union effort to defeat him:
In an interview, [Steelworkers President Leo] Gerard said the health care bill was a defining issue for the labor movement and that he had been personally stung by Altmire’s vote because his organization had played a critical role in helping him win the seat.

“In our case, we believe that Jason Altmire cast the wrong vote on health care. We believe he should have voted with the majority of Democrats, and that he shouldn’t have done that,” Gerard said. “He gave us his word that he would vote with us on the health care bill and he reversed on that without talking to us. So in the labor movement, that matters.”

The peculiar thing here is that Mark Critz, who was elected after health care reform was passed, has said he would have voted against it. He also voted against Wall Street reform, another key union issue. And about those social issues—Sarah Jaffe notes that Critz was "a cosponsor of HR3 and HR358—the one that would let us die if a doctor thought that saving us might injure a fetus."

So while unions' anger at Altmire is entirely understandable, Critz is an odd and in many ways unfortunate standard-bearer for labor.

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