The Campaign Spot

Why Do Coal-Country Democrats Want Their Constituents to Lose Their Jobs?

I have a piece in the pipeline on the race between Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz for the House seat in western Pennsylvania once occupied by John Murtha.

I notice Murtha voted for health care and cap-and-trade; his district, as described by Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics:

This has been tough, hard-working country ever since the Scots-Irish farmers settled here in the 1790s. Their first big product was whiskey – this was the site of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 – but historically the most important product was bituminous coal. Discovered in the 19th century, it was the basic energy source for the production of iron and steel. The offspring of the original settlers were joined by immigrants from Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia, living in little frame houses packed into the towns on interstices between hills and rivers, within walking distance of steel factories, foundries and coal mine shafts . . . The 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, with highly irregular boundaries, contains much of this coal and steel country.

Other coal-country Democrats like Kathy Dahlkemper and Jason Altmire voted no on cap-and-trade. I wonder if Mark Critz, Murtha’s district director, stands by his old boss’s vote?