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Book: Bill helped oust Altmire

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Is Bill Clinton responsible for ousting former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire from Congress?

Jonathan Allen, co-author of the just-released tell-all “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton,” thinks so.

In an interview with NPR, Allen said Clinton threw his support behind Mark Critz,Altmire's opponent in the 2012 Democrat primary, after Altmire didn't endorse Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential bid.

Clinton “turned that primary around,” Allen said. “Altmire had been in the lead. All of a sudden, Critz with Clinton's backing ends up knocking Altmire out.”

Critz lost in the general election to Republican Keith Rothfus. Altmire, formerly of McCandless, today works for Sunshine State insurer Florida Blue.

MAYOR AWAY AS CITY SHIVERS, GRIEVES. Talk about bad timing.

We don't begrudge Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's desire to escape the city's wintry weather. But he had been on the job for barely a month before he skipped town for a five-day vacation.

The disappearing act was reminiscent of his predecessor, Luke Ravenstahl, who was constantly criticized during the final nine months of his term for being missing in action.

Peduto's chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, said the mayor and his girlfriend went to an undisclosed beach. Acklin said the getaway was planned in the fall and contended the mayor deserved a vacation.

That explanation probably won't go over well with Pittsburgh police officers. Though Peduto met with the recently slain K-9 Officer Rocco's handler and his family prior to departing, he missed the dog's memorial service to have fun in the sun.

TARDY WITH THE TRIBUTE. The plan was to name a glitzy new soccer field in Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights section after Luke Ravenstahl.

But you know how busy people get around the holidays. The dedication didn't occur before the Lukester left the mayor's office, and now no one is clamoring to christen the field after a guy who's now a consultant specializing in Marcellus shale issues.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who represents Brighton Heights, reportedly has a “Ravenstahl Field” plaque in her office. Will it continue to collect dust in her desk drawer?

Just as important, if City Council does eventually sign off on naming the field for him, would Ravenstahl attend the dedication ceremony? As he proved during his last year in office, public appearances aren't his forte.

TOUGH TIMES. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, is having a rough period. He was thought to be the man to beat for the Democrat nomination for lieutenant governor but failed to garner the endorsement of the state party this month when it decided to go with an open primary.

And campaign finance reports show he is lagging, despite announcing his candidacy early.

Hoping to buoy his war chest and election chances, Critz held a Feb. 10 cocktail fundraiser at the posh 116 Club in Washington, D.C., headlining U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Tickets cost $100 and $200.

Critz opted to run for lieutenant governor this year instead of trying to unseat the man who beat him in 2012, U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley.

Others Democrat candidates for lieutenant governor include state Sen. Michael J. Stack III of Philadelphia, state Rep. Brandon Neuman of Washington County, Harrisburg city Councilman Brad Koplinski, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith and Brenda Alton, former Harrisburg parks and recreation director.

— compiled by Trib Total Media staff

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