As most eyes are focused on which Democratic candidate for governor will face incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in November, the race for the Democratic lieutenant governor race continues on.
Leading up to the first major quarter of fundraising in the 2014 statewide race cycle, Indiana University of Pennsylvania alumnus Mark Critz was seen as the front-runner in the race, primarily due to his high name recognition.
The candidate’s name recognition comes from his two and a half year tenure as the congressman for Pennsylvania’s 12th District.
Critz was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2010 to fill the term of the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who died while in office. After finishing Murtha’s term, Critz ran on his own in the 2010 general and won. In 2012, he was defeated by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) after redistricting moved Democratic support from the district.
Before serving in Congress, Critz worked as a staffer in Murtha’s office and spent his pre-political career in construction and landscaping.
But as the final 2013-fiscal-year numbers are released from the Federal Election Commission, Critz added only $84,000 to his campaign’s coffers – a moderately low number, especially for a candidate who told The Penn in September that fundraising wouldn’t be an issue.
“In a race of this magnitude, lieutenant governor is not high profile or expensive,” Critz said at a Sept. 11 event in Indiana. “But I can raise – my budget’s going to be about $1.5 million. I think those people that are running think that if they hit a quarter million, then they’ve done a good job.”
Several prominent Indiana County residents have publicly thrown their support behind Critz for the lieutenant governor spot, including Ron Fairman, the chair of the Indiana County Democrats. Joining Fairman, Patrick “Patty” Evanko, an Indiana County commissioner; Sandra Kirkland, Indiana County’s treasurer; Dennis Clawson, mayor of Clymer; and Indiana Borough Mayor George Hood have also endorsed the former congressman.
Former Rep. Chris Carney, who represented Pennsylvania’s 10th District, also endorsed Critz.
Critz is the only National Rifle Association-endorsed candidate in the running for lieutenant governor.
Despite the low fundraising numbers in 2013, Critz will likely post better numbers in the next FEC report, especially on the heels of a Feb. 10 fundraising event sponsored by U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). The event was held at the 116 Club in Washington, D.C.
Critz was defeated in fundraising numbers by state Sen. Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia), who raised more than $360,000 in 2013 for his campaign. Stack also brought over nearly $290,000 from his previous campaigns.
Stack hit and surpassed the $250,000 that Critz said would be considered “a good job,” while Critz remains several hundred thousand dollars behind that total.
Falling behind Stack, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith raised just over $218,000 in 2013. State Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) raised just over $90,000 – a notable total, given the fact that Neuman has only been in the race for a few weeks.
Brad Koplinski, a Harrisburg city councilman, won the Democratic state committee’s endorsement meeting poll but did not garner the two-thirds vote necessary to be the officially endorsed as a Democratic statewide candidate for lieutenant governor.
Critz told the Johnstown Tribune- Democrat before the state committee endorsement meeting poll that although he didn’t think that the committee would be able to endorse, he hoped that they would endorse him.
“I think it’s going to be split enough that I don’t think there will be an endorsement,” Critz said.
Despite not winning the state committee poll, Critz did garner the support of the southwestern part of the state. Critz won the Democratic state committee southwest caucus straw poll.
A PoliticsPA reader poll in spring 2013 declared that Koplinski would win the lieutenant governor race, however, that was before Critz entered the race.