JOHNSTOWN, PA. — The anti-Washington fervor shaking the nation’s political establishment has yet to take hold in this old steel town, where residents pride themselves on self-reliance but are acutely aware of what government has done to keep their community afloat. Wasteful spending in Washington during hard economic times is a dominant theme in the political debate this year. But here in western Pennsylvania, the electoral potency of that sentiment was put to the test Tuesday and came up short.
“Unfortunately people are so wrapped up in this anti-government thing right now; I don’t know why,” said Phil Glover, 46, a corrections officer. Glover was among the majority of voters who cast their ballots for Democrat Mark Critz in a special House election to succeed the late John P. Murtha (D).
Against the prevailing wisdom, Critz highlighted his experience in government in the campaign. He had served for more than a decade as a Murtha staffer, and he promised to work as hard as his boss famously did to shepherd federal money and jobs to the district. As the powerful chairman of the defense panel of the House Appropriations Committee, Murtha steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the region.