Meet the HR3 Ten, The Anti-Choice, Anti-Woman Democrats. No. 2: Mark Critz

Sarah Jaffe

Ten Democrats are cosponsors of H.R.3, even with language redefining rape. Four of them  apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all. Number 2 is Mark Critz.

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten, find all posted to date here.

Meet Mark Critz. He got a huge chunk of cash from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last election to hold the seat he’d won in a special election after the death of his old boss, John Murtha. How huge? $2,107,202.86

Murtha was best known for coming out loudly and angrily against the Iraq war–as the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a veteran, he was “taken seriously” the way us antiwar ladies usually aren’t. But Murtha wasn’t a dove by nature: he’d voted for the war in ’02, making his claims of being “pro-life” once again a little iffy. 

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Critz follows in his boss’s footsteps and opposes our right to our own bodies–he’s a cosponsor of HR3 and HR358–the one that would let us die if a doctor thought that saving us might injure a fetus. 

Real Clear Politics has some dirt on Critz from his first campaign: 

“I’m pro life and pro gun. That’s not a liberal,” Critz says in his own spot.

Critz’s camp also says he opposes a proposed cap-and-trade law, something Murtha voted for when the House first acted on it last year.

These positions reflect the unique character of the district. Democrats have a heavy registration advantage on paper, and Murtha won his seat consistently with little trouble. But it was the only seat in the country carried by John Kerry in 2004 but not by Barack Obama four years later. In the heart of steel and coal country, the Democrats here are far more conservative than the national party, as Murtha was on many issues.

While Critz walks this fine line, his opponent is calling him out. To coincide with Tuesday night’s fundraiser, Republican Tim Burns’ campaign issued a release accusing him of “political double talk,” asking: “If we can’t trust candidate Mark Critz to be honest about his real support for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, why would we ever send him to Congress?” 

“Unique,” eh? Let’s just take five seconds to be honest about why Barack Obama didn’t carry that district. It’s the same reason that I and other people canvassing for Obama got chased off of Democratic-registered doorsteps in Pennsylvania during the Democratic primaries. Race. 

The district is white and working-class: these were the voters that Richard Trumka was speaking to in his famous call-out to union members to support Barack Obama. “There’s not a single good reason for any worker, especially any union member, to vote against Barack Obama. And there’s only one really, really bad reason to vote against Barack Obama. And that’s because he’s not white. And I want to talk about that reason, because I saw it in Pennsylvania in the primaries.” 

Kristen McHugh notes “SW PA (Pittsburgh area, Allegheny County) would probably support far more progressive candidates than we get, but the machine rejects them, even at the mayoral level.” She sent me this post, which has more information about the 12th District, gerrymandering, and interestingly enough calls out from the Right the same things I call out from the left: 

Puzzling, isn’t it, why a pro-life, pro-gun politician belongs to the political party that is neither pro-life nor pro-gun. But I suppose the 2 to 1 Democratic predominance in the district might have something to do with that. And Critz had better have very good balance: the longer he tries to straddle that fence over Obamacare, the more likely he is to slip up and hurt himself in a very painful fall.

As in, Republicans aren’t buying it, either.  But John Kerry was a clearly pro-choice politician–anyone else remember the controversy over denying him communion when he was running for president?  And he carried that district in the year that Bush still won the national election. You don’t HAVE to be antichoice to win these areas. (You may still have to be white.)

I’m getting off topic, though. So let’s return to Critz!

Critz’s top donor is a company called Progeny Systems, a defense department contractor, but not by much. Unsurprisingly, given his blue-collar district, he got a lot of union money too. 

He’s a Catholic, like most antichoice Democrats (but certainly not all of them–and certainly there are plenty of prochoice Catholics as well). 

He voted against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and just this week voted to extend the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act–even 26 Republicans broke with their party on that one.  Like Shuler, he voted against the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and he gets a 0% rating from Project Vote Smart as he’s refused to give them his positions. He does get an A from the NRA, though. 

None of the bills he’s sponsored thus far have been enacted by Congress.

Critz is on the Committee on Armed Services, the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, as well as the Committee on Small Business.

All of this could become irrelevant, though, if Critz’s heavily gerrymandered district is redistricted out of existence, as Republicans took control of Pennsylvania again this year. 

The party invested heavily in Critz despite his “woulda, shoulda, coulda” comments that he’d have voted against health care reform and climate legislation and his demonstrated opposition to LGBT equality. And was that necessary? 

After all, as the Christian Science Monitor notes, “Murtha had voted for health-care reform and cap-and-trade, for example, while Critz says he opposed both.”  Sure, Murtha had been there forever, but was it really necessary for his successor, wrapped in his mantle, to come out to his right? 

You can ask Critz yourself, of course. Email him through his website, or:

1022 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C.  20515
Phone: (202) 225-2065
Fax: (202) 225-5709

And you can once again get in touch with the DCCC and ask them why they spent $2,107,202.86 on Mark Critz. 

430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Main Phone Number: (202) 863-1500 

Meet Heath Shuler Here. Meet Joe Donnelly next!

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.

News Law and Policy

Court Blocks North Carolina’s ‘Discriminatory’ Voter ID Law

Imani Gandy

“[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision," Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court, describing the North Carolina GOP's voter ID law.

A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s elections law, holding that the Republican-held legislature had enacted the law with discriminatory intent to burden Black voters and that it therefore violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The ruling marks the latest defeat of voter ID laws passed by GOP-majority legislatures across the country.

“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court.

HB 589 required in-person voters to show certain types of photo ID beginning in 2016, and either curtailed or reduced registration and voting access tools that Black voters disproportionately used, including an early voting period. Black voters also disproportionately lack photo IDs.

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Republicans claimed that the law was intended to protect against voter fraud, which has proven exceedingly rare in Republican-led investigations. But voting rights advocates argue that the law was intended to disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

The ruling marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters, which had asked the Fourth Circuit to review a lower court ruling against them.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder in April ruled that plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that the law hindered Black voters’ ability to exercise political power.

The Fourth Circuit disagreed.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” Motz wrote. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

The Fourth Circuit noted that the Republican-dominated legislature passed the law in 2013, immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby v. Holder, which struck a key provision in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 4 is the coverage formula used to determine which states must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the District Court for the District of Columbia before making any changes to election laws.

The day after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Senate Rules Committee announced the North Carolina legislature’s intention to enact an “omnibus” election law, the appeals court noted. Before enacting the law, however, the Republican-dominated legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.

After receipt of the race data, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration, all of which disproportionately burdened Black voters.

“In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its actions, the State offered only meager justifications,” Motz continued. “[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling comes a day after the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and one of the primary organizers of Moral Mondays, gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention that brought convention goers to their feet.

During a protest on the first day of the trial, Barber told a crowd of about 3,500 people, “this is our Selma.”