"When this map was drawn, I was despondent. I thought there is no way I can win this. No way. The geography is so stacked against me," Critz told supporters Tuesday night.
The newly drawn district lines appeared to lean in favor of Jason Altmire, with the Pittsburgh-area congressman already representing about 2/3 of the area. But unions turned against the 3-term lawmaker when he voted against the 2010 healthcare reform bill. Organized labor threw it's political power behind Critz.
"We had a strategy. We knew we had to turn out our people in a bigger number. I had to win significantly up here and I had to pick up a lot of labor support to cut into his area and that's exactly what we did," Critz said.
Congressman Critz, who originally landed in the 12th district seat in a special election after the death of John Murtha, said he plans to sit down with Altmire to talk about the new ground he expects to be representing. Critz said the fact that he's even in Washington is still surreal to him.
"This is still going back to [Murtha's reign] and I'm even in this seat. I take this job personally. I want to do good things for the people of this district, so I fight very hard and it becomes part of me," Critz said.
Congressman Altmire was in Washington, DC while the results came in. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports him as saying "Seventy percent of my followers wanted to return me to office so I'm at peace with everything we did. That Johnstown, Somerset area came through [for Critz] incredibly."
Critz will face Pittsburgh-area attorney Keith Rothfus in November.