Washington (CNN) - FreedomWorks announced Wednesday that it's backing Tim Burns, the Republican candidate running in the May 18 special election for the House seat of the late Rep. John Murtha.
FreedomWorks' political action committee and the organization's chairman, former top House Republican Dick Armey, officially endorsed Burns. The group also announced they'll fund Burn's get out the vote efforts, which they say will include "door-to-door literature drops, phone banks, and yard sign distribution."
"Tim Burns may be new to the political scene, but it is real-world experience that qualifies him to serve the people of Pennsylvania's 12th District," says Armey in a release. "Tim learned the values of hard work and fiscal responsibility in starting a successful company from the ground up."
FreedomWorks is a nonprofit conservative organization that helps train volunteer activists and has provided much of the organizational heft behind the Tea Party movement.
Burns will face off against Democrat Mark Critz. The ad wars have heated up, with both campaigns and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee all recently putting up commercials.
The battle is to succeed Murtha, the Democrat who steered millions of federal dollars back to his home district and rarely had any serious challenges in his 18 re-election contests.
But the district, which stretches from Cambria County in west-central Pennsylvania down to the southwestern corner of the state, is a socially conservative-leaning one. In the 2004 presidential election, Sen. John Kerry won Pennsylvania 12 by two points. Sen. John McCain narrowly edged out Barack Obama in the district in 2008, even though Obama carried the state by 10 percent.
The special election will be held on the same day as Pennsylvania holds statewide primaries. The Democrats have competitive contests for governor and U.S. senator, which could draw more Democrats than Republicans to the polls, since the GOP doesn't have competitive primaries for the top two races. That could be a factor in a close race in the House special election in PA-12.
UPDATE at 1:20 p.m. ET: The United Mine Workers of America Wednesday endorsed Critz.
"Mark, throughout his career with the late Congressman Murtha, has proven that he understands the needs of our members and working families in Western Pennsylvania. His commitment to creating jobs and bringing economic development to our region is unparalleled, and we can think of no one better to support than someone who is with us on the issues we care about," says Edward Yankovich, International District 2 Vice President of the United Mine Workers of America, in a release.
–CNN's Charles Riley contributed to this report