WILKES-BARRE — Mark Critz said he has name recognition politically that he said will make a difference and help his party defeat Gov. Tom Corbett in November.
Critz, 52, lieutenant governor candidate from Johnstown, Thursday said he expects the Democratic candidate for governor to be from the eastern side of Pennsylvania. He said his western Pennsylvania popularity will not only balance the ticket, but his hard work also will show voters that he can get things done.
“I can help us win,” Critz said of the Democrats while visiting The Times Leader office. “We can move a Democrat into the governor’s mansion.”
Critz, former congressman from the 12th Congressional District, worked for the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha before filling his unexpired term in 2010. Critz won a two-year term that same year and them was defeated in the 2012 primary.
Critz was in the Wyoming Valley on Thursday to meet with some elected officials. He met with state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca. Neither has endorsed Critz. He has also talked to U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright.
“I intend to get into the communities to meet people and listen to their concerns,” Critz said. “We all know Pennsylvania needs jobs, jobs, jobs. Candidates have been talking about job creation for 30 years. I realize how important that is, and I intend to create an atmosphere to make that happen.”
Critz said he will work with federal and county officials to get everyone “on the same page.” He said the meetings will give him a better understanding of issues facing each region of the state.
Key issues for the race, Critz said, are education, the economy, the Marcellus Shale industry and putting middle class families back to work.
Republican Corbett’s policies “have not been good for the middle class,” he said. “You can’t keep cutting education. We must be competitive with foreign markets. Just look at our state prison population where 80 percent of inmates lack a high school education.”
Critz opposes privatizing the state liquor store system, which he said produced $455 million in revenue last year.
“We can’t give that up,” he said.
When in Congress as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Critz said he fought to ensure that the military is prepared to meet worldwide threats. He also served on the House Small Business Committee and became the lead Democrat on its Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee, where, he said, he fought to ensure the ideas and concerns of small businesses are heard in Washington.
Critz co-founded the House Marcellus Shale Caucus to help members of Congress get a better understanding of the issue. He also introduced legislation in 2011 to authorize grants to strengthen the on-the-job training programs for workers in the natural gas industry to help ensure that jobs go to Pennsylvanians.