Costello looks safe in 6th with commanding lead over Parrish
U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello appeared poised to capture re-election to a second term to represent the 6th Congressional District seat in a race that exposed bitterness between him and his Democratic opponent, businessman Mike Parrish.
In late but not final returns Tuesday, Costello had a commanding lead of
138,625 votes to Parrish’s 97,759 or about 58 percent of the ballots, according to state election results.
Costello, a Republican, sought re-election to what would be his second term, while challenger Parrish had hoped to replace him in Washington, D.C., to represent the voters in parts of
Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lebanon counties.
In Chester County, with most of the vote counted in the mostly northern precinct of the county, Costello held an advantage of 42,875 to Parrish’s 34,920. Over in Berks County, Costello’s lead was 48,860 votes to Parrish’s 30,474, with 76 of 83 precincts reporting. And in rural Lebanon County, the incumbent had 14,566 votes to Parrish’s 7,555. In Montgomery County, results had
Costello ahead by 32,324 votes to Parrish’s 24,810.
All results are unofficial until certified by their respective counties.
In a statement, Costello expressed gratitude for the victory. “I’m incredibly humbled and honored to have been given the trust of the voters in Pennsylvania’s 6th District, and I look forward to working hard each day on their behalf,” he said, from his victory headquarters in Exton. “I will continue
to focus on more economic opportunity, keeping our community safe and healthy, and serving our veterans with the respect they deserve.”
Parrish could not be reached for comment.
Although both men expressed generally moderate views concerning the legislation they would support if elected, reflecting the district’s overall character, the campaign turned intensely
personal in the final weeks of the election season as Costello slammed Parrish’s record of personal and professional financial troubles, and Parrish attacked Costello’s refusal to publicly disavow the candidacy of Republican businessman Donald Trump.
Costello, however, was able to broadcast his message to voters more widely than Parrish, because of his strong financial advantage in campaign donations. His funds exceeded $1 million raised, while Parrish was unable to break the $300,000 mark.
Costello, 40, of West Goshen, is a graduate of Ursinus College and Villanova University School of Law, and worked as a land use attorney. He has served as township supervisor in East Vincent, where he was born, and later as Chester County Recorder of Deeds and county commissioner before being elected to Congress in 2014.
Parrish, 54, of Willistown, is a graduate of West Point Academy and at Stanford University and the Wharton School of Economics, where he earned master’s degrees in engineering and economics. A small businessman, he served in the Army and is a colonel in the Army Reserves. This was his first run for elective office.
In interviews leading up to the election, both were asked questions on issues involving immigration, the U.S. economy, the positions taken by leaders of their respective parties, and concerns specific to the 6th District.
On immigration, Costello opened by pointing to the breakdowns that have allowed millions of undocumented workers from entering the country.
“It is a broken system,” he said. “Border enforcement has failed. But the physical erection of a wall will not in and of itself prevent the migration of those across the southern border. Until the border problem is addressed, the situation is just going to repeat itself. I think we need to deploy more technology and more officers.”
On the economy, he said he does not “believe that many of the president’s policies have proven successful in elevating the strength of the economy. We are not growing at the clip that we should be at this time.”
Costello addressed a component of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” plan that he said would look at giving state and local government more flexibility at finding solutions for poverty.
“If we were to empower states and county government to do what works best in their communities without a lot of the strings and mandates attached, I believe we would do a lot better in providing opportunity for people to get beyond poverty into sustainable living,” he said.
Parrish, in his answers, spoke of his experience as a business owner and military veteran. On immigration, he spoke of his service with Vietnam refugees who had graduated from West Point with him.
“This country is made of immigrants,” he said. “Everyone has the opportunity to come to America and everyone believes in the idea of America. The term refugee or the term immigrant is not a bad word in my mind.
“I think there should be a path to citizenship,” he continued. “Not what Mr. Trump is proposing and shipping them back, that’s a little extreme, and its costprohibitive. I think these people are hardworking, but they need to be citizens instead of undocumented, so they can start paying into the system.”
On the economy, he pointed mostly to the need for infrastructure development.
“We need a 21st-century infrastructure for a 21stcentury economy,” he said, adding that the current Congress “pats itself on the back for doing the bare minimum, Band-Aid fixes to bridges and roads” are not the solution, he said. “What I am calling for is a bipartisan plan for an organized effort for a massive upgrade.”
His concerns for the 6th District surrounded the military veterans that live here and their health care needs.
“You talk to most veterans and they will tell you for the VA system the services they get is A-plus,” he said. “But waiting to get classified for disability services is problematic.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.
U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, center, waits to vote with his son, Ryan Jr., at West Goshen N-1 polling location at Trinity Assembly of God Church on Pottstown Pike on Tuesday.