Only one opportunity remains for voters in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District to see this year’s U.S. House of Representatives candidates meet in a head-to-head debate before Election Day.
The event will take place on Tuesday, beginning at 7 p.m., inside the Pitt-Johnstown’s Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.
It will be the third time U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and Republican Keith Rothfus have debated, including meetings in Beaver and Westmoreland counties.
The Tribune-Democrat Editor Eric Knopsnyder, WJAC-TV primary anchorman Marty Radovanic and UPJ Student Government Association President Cliff Maloney will serve as moderators.
“The Tribune-Democrat is proud to be a part of the 12th Congressional District debate,” said Knopsnyder. “As a newspaper, part of our responsibility is to keep the public informed of what is happening in our region. The winner of this race will have a huge impact on our area. I encourage undecided voters to attend the debate as well as those who think they have already made up their minds.”
The one-hour debate is open to the public.
“I think it’s great to get all of the constituents – all of the people who might be seeing ads about candidates – to see who they are and what they do,” said Critz. “You know me, I’ll talk about anything and everything to show people how hard I’ll work for them.”
Rothfus expressed similar feelings, saying, “Every chance I have to meet with voters is a job interview. ... I’m looking forward to a good exchange of positions on how to move the region and country forward.”
The 12th district race is considered one of the most competitive in the nation. Roll Call, The New York Times and The Huffington Post have all listed it among the few toss-up elections remaining. Because both parties consider the seat to be within grasp, the race has drawn statewide and national attention from political figures and the press.
“I think Keith is a very, very fine candidate. ... Keith’s doing a nice job on campaigning. I think he’ll be successful. He’ll be a big, big asset in Congress,” said Tom Smith, the Republican candidate in this year’s U.S. Senate race, during a visit to Cambria County on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn spoke equally as positive about Critz during a visit to Johnstown.
“We have a great candidate in Mark Critz,” he said.
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