(CNN) – Two hard-hitting new ads are heating up the Pennsylvania battle for the late Rep. Jack Murtha's congressional seat.
Republican Tim Burns is facing off against Democrat Mark Critz in a the May 18 special election. The race has stepped up in intensity in recent weeks, with both campaigns as well as national party committees going up with television ads.
The Burns campaign came out Tuesday with a new television commercial that questions the ethics of Critz, a longtime aide to Murtha, a Democrat who represented the district for 18 terms until he passed away earlier this year.
"Mark Critz. A Washington bureaucrat bankrolled by Pelosi. Critz was investigated by the congressional ethics office and Critz was in charge of the finances for a company caught on paying their taxes," says the narrator in the ad.
"The Ethics Committee found that Mr. Murtha did nothing wrong. Tim Burns knows this," Critz told CNN, responding to Burns' ad. "I worked for Parkins, a local small business, because I wanted to try to help my brother-in-law's company turn around its operations so that it could bring jobs to our community. I left because I disagreed with decisions that were being made over the company's future. These misleading personal attacks are Tim Burns' attempt to distract from his own record on job loss and outsourcing."
Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is up with a new ad that goes after Burns.
"Millionaire Tim Burns sold his company, sold it to a corporation that used a tax loophole which encourages sending American jobs overseas. Burns got rich even though he knew there may be layoffs in Pittsburgh," says the narrator.
"The new DCCC ad is more false, negative attacks from the Pelosi attack machine in Washington. Tim Burns started TechRx in the basement of his home and grew it to over 400 new jobs," said Burns spokesman Kent Gates. "TechRx was sold to NDCHealth with the goal of expanding operations and increasing employment. NDCHealth was never Tim Burns' company though he did remain for a brief period during the transition of the sale. NDCHealth followed existing laws to maximize revenues for job creation."
Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, which stretches from Cambria County in west-central Pennsylvania down to the southwestern corner of the state, is considered socially conservative. In the 2004 presidential election, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, won the district by 2 points. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, narrowly edged out then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in the district in 2008, even though Obama carried the state by 10 percent.
Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg, two well respected non-partisan political handicappers, both rate the race as a toss-up. The winner of next month's special election will have to defend the seat in November.
Updated 5:46 p.m. : Late Tuesday afternoon Cook moved the race to lean Republican.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Murtha was the biggest crook in Congress. He did every underhanded and unethical deal you can do without being indicted. His son is a VP for company here in Texas and he is a scumbag thug just like his father. Pennsylvania and the nation is better off with whoever wins.
critz learned from the best but, is he ready to rise above Murtha's corruption ??soon we will know.
They should question the ethics of any person associated to Murtha.
Sorry, you can't complain about someone else's negativity when you engage in it yourself to bolster your own campaign. I say you all stop listening to the President so much and stop taking lessons on how he demonizes everyone. Just because he is President doesn't mean you have to emulate his bad actions as well.
so one anti-Democrat ad complains about PA Critz being investigated by an ethics committee ...
... but just a little farther south ... Rubio in FL is up to his neck in a current IRS investigation over his use of a GOP party credit card & his hand-picked state budget officer has been indicted for a $35 million dollar mis-appropriation of FL funds!
The republicans always seem to want it both ways! Just telling us all to blindly vote for the GOP candidate ...
Another Pelosi crony versus an honest upstanding patriot who will fight for PA and stem the liberal tide? No contest: Vote for Republican Tim Burns!
I think Critz should be elected without question. This district has always had a crook in Congress and needs another one.
There is no Democratic held seat that is not in severe danger of being lost! And each one can thank 3 people; Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.
It is obvious that this very immature and arrogant President seems to think that more people in this great nation will forget about everything he has forced upon us, blindly walk to the polls and vote for him and his crony Dem friends. If he doesn't think this, he then must think he can further DIVIDE this nation by race and compel the ..."Latinos. women, and African Americans" to once again take goose steps toward the polls while chanting; "Change, change, change." I think not.
Further, he seems to think most "want" to work for the government and pay more and higher taxes, than those who do not????
I'm betting that there are more Liberty loving, God fearing, real Americans than the entitlement seeking, America haters who sit and mindlessly wait for instrcutions from their "annointed one while holding out their hands".
Isn't it wonderful how Obama, Pelosi and Reid have worked for the people of this country vs the party of big spending and No answers, No dialogue and No votes. Thank heavens we have a leader who can speak in paragraphs and of superior intelligence.
Its just finally good to be rid of Murtha. He was so corruot it was scary which makes me question Mark Critz but I would take anyone over Murtha.
One thing's for sure- Burns fits right in with all the gop fear & smear tactics! Another reason NOT to vote for him!