From NBC's Mark Murray
Republican Tim Burns has conceded to Democrat Mark Critz in the special election to fill the late Jack Murtha's (D) congressional seat in Pennsylvania. The AP still hasn't called the race, however.
With Critz's apparent victory, this becomes the SEVENTH-straight competitive special House contest that Democrats have won and the GOP has lost since 2008.
And as we pointed out in First Read this morning, this GOP loss -- in this environment -- raises REAL questions about the Republican Party's ability to take back in the House in November.
Why? If the GOP couldn't win here -- the only congressional seat that John Kerry won in '04 but Obama lost in '08 -- it's not going to have an easy time netting the 40 House seats in November it needs to retake the House.
*** Will The NRCC Keep Losing Special Elections? Over the past two election cycles -- in good times for the party, but also not-so good times -- Democrats have accomplished this feat: They've won six consecutive competitive House special elections (in IL-14, LA-6, MS-1, NY-20, NY-23, and CA-11). That streak could very well come to an end in today's other big contest: the toss-up special congressional race between Tim Burns (R) and Mark Critz (D) to replace the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D). But if Republicans lose this contest, it could be a potentially ominous sign for Republicans in their quest to retake the House. In this environment, if they can't win here -- the only district that John Kerry won in '04 but Obama lost in '08, yet where Dems still outnumber Republicans -- it raises questions about their ability to do the things, mechanically, they will need to pick up the 40 seats necessary to take back the House in November.