The maps were released Tuesday and show the state divided into 18 districts after losing one as a result of the 2010 census. State lawmakers are expected to finalize the plans next week.
"I'm disappointed in them," Bruce Hottle, Somerset County Republican Party chairman, said of lawmakers who devised the plan. "I was hoping to see Bill Shuster get more of Somerset County and not less of it."
Hottle said that after the 2010 death of U.S. Rep. John Murtha he expected that the 12th District would be merged with the 4th District.
"I just didn't expect it would take in more of Somerset County and not less," he said.
Hottle acknowledged that the population shifted east, which would require the districts to shift east as well. He said it can be difficult to balance the districts without splitting up precincts.
"I know it is a bit of a daunting task," he said. "But I was surprised the way Somerset County was cut up."
Hottle said the districts were probably drawn so Republicans could keep 12 congressional seats in Washington, D.C. He has heard of some Republicans expressing interest in running in the 12th, but no one has officially announced. Both Critz and Altmire were re-elected in close races in 2010.
"I don't know if adding more of Somerset County to that mix helps," he said. "Somerset Borough and township have a heavy Republican registration. It may be why they were added to the district."
County Democratic Chairman Jim Shepley said he was disappointed not only in the proposed congressional map, but also the approved state maps.
"They pitted two Democrats against each other is what they did," he said. "The way it was set up was to get rid of a Democrat. Republicans will benefit from more congressional seats."
Shepley said he believes Critz would have an edge in both Somerset and Cambria counties, but would have to contend with a larger area that would favor Altmire.
"I think it's going to be a real close race," he said. "It will be whoever gets out and works the hardest."
He was happy to see both men say in interviews that they would like to keep the campaign clean.
"It is important to show the voters in the 12th District that they're looking out for the best interests of the voters and taxpayers," he said.
Shepley said he does not think the redistricting process has been fair to Somerset County.
"I want to see the best for the county," he said. "I want to see 219 completed. I don't think that's going to happen since we have this all butchered up."
The Somerset County commissioners have also been keeping an eye on the redistricting process.
"I would say overall I don't think it was unexpected," Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes said. "We are focusing on the 12th Congressional District."
Tokar-Ickes said the entire state will be watching the race and the prospect of losing Critz is a concern.
"We are planning to fight to try and keep representation on this side of the district," she said. "The fact is this is the map and we have to deal with it and we will go from here."
Commissioner John Vatavuk said retaining a local representative is important for the future of Route 219.
"He (Critz) and Congressman Shuster have worked hand and hand in the 219 project," he said. "We want to maintain local representation on that issue if nothing else."
Commissioner Jim Marker said for Somerset County's sake he hopes that Critz and Shuster continue to represent the area.
"We spent many years in the commissioners' office building relationships with congressional representation," he said. "Part of that relationship will stay in place. I am hoping all of it will remain unchanged for Somerset County."