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New Congressional Map Pits Critz and Altmire

A proposed map of Pennsylvania's 18 new congressional districts drawn by Republican state lawmakers would shift Scranton and Wilkes-Barre into a Democratic-held district in the eastern half of the state, and force Democrats Jason Altmire and Mark Critz to run against each other in the western half.

The map was released on Tuesday. A vote on it is scheduled for Wednesday in the Pennsylvania Senate. Wednesday is the last voting day on the Pennsylvania Senate calendar until 2012.

"I have been honored to represent the 12th Congressional District in Congress and I look forward to continuing to represent this district beyond the 2012 election," said Congressman Mark Critz in a written statement. "The boundaries of my district may have changed, but my priorities remain the same." The statement concluded with, "I look forwarded to a spirited campaign."

Both men knew it was extreemly likely that their districts would be merged by the Republican controled senate.

"The way that they drew it, I think, is as favorable for me as it possible could have been," said Congressman Jason Altmire, "It keeps, within the district, my home area where I live and have very strong support, and it keeps all of Beaver County intact, which is a big part of my political base."

Republicans say that their aim was to protect the re-election chances of the 12 Republican U.S. House members, but Democrats say that it defies the wishes of voters. A new map must be created to reflect population changes documented by the 2010 census. It must be in place in time for candidates to file petitions to run in the April primary.

Pennsylvania is losing one seat in the 2012 election because the state's population grew more slowly than the rest of the nation.

The 18th congressional district held by Republican Tim Murphy largely remains intact. "Congressman Murphy is thrilled for the opportunity to continue working for his constituents in Congress and is ready to start building the same strong relationships within new communities in Washington and Greene [Counties]," said Murphy's Chief of Staff, Susan Mosychuk.