No joke: GOP candidacies up for grabs
OK, let’s the formalities out of the way first.
This is not an April’s Fool’s joke, although some local Republicans may wish it was.
For voters in the Philly suburbs, it’s the perfect Trifecta.
Perfect, that is, if you were not satisfied with your representative in Congress and were looking for a new face to send to Washington.
The region will have three new faces sitting in Congress after the November mid-term elections.
And that is regardless if a Democrat or Republican wins.
That’s because the Congressional districts have been reconfigured. And because three incumbent congressmen are bowing out.
Pat Meehan: Gone.
Bob Brady: Gone.
Ryan Costello: Gone.
All three have decided not to seek re-election.
Meehan, whose 7th District seat was redrawn into the newly minted 5th District by the state Supreme Court, hit the exit door after becoming mired in the details of using taxpayer funds to settle a sex harassment suit filed against him.
The 5th District now includes all of Delaware County, as well as a sliver of Montgomery County on the Main Line, and a portion of Southwest and South Philly.
Finally, there is Ryan Costello. The Sixth District congressman from Chester County has been fuming ever since the Supreme Court came out with their new congressional map.
And with good reason. Costello’s numerical district did not change. He’s still the 6th District. But his voters did. And Costello was not the least bit happy about it.
He joined a group of Republican congressmen who went to court to block the new map, believing the court had overstepped its bounds, in effect usurping the role of the Legislature in drawing up the new borders.
He was not especially thrilled with the new makeup of the 6th either. He lost a lot of loyal GOP voters, and gained a whole bunch of Democrats in the city of Reading.
But Costello also seemed increasingly disenchanted with being a congressman, under nearly constant attack from the left, including weekly protests outside his office. He had concerns about safety, and the effect on his young family. Finally, he made it clear that being a Republican congressman these days was not exactly a walk in the park.
So instead, Costello simply walked.
He announced last weekend he would not seek reelection.
But he also had one more decision to make, one that did not exactly thrill his fellow Republicans.
Costello informed state officials that he wanted his name removed from the primary ballot.
The result is that there likely will be only one Republican’s name on the ballot, little-known and under-financed Chadds Ford tax attorney Greg McCauley.
There is a chance Republicans could still try to get a more high-profile candidate to take on likely Democratic nominee Chrissy Houlahan, but it would involve some unpleasantries for the party.
They could rally around a write-in. They could go to court and challenge some of the signatures on McCauley’s nominating petitions in an attempt to get him knocked off the ballot. That would leave no name on the GOP side, and also open the possibility that Houlahan could mount a GOP write-in campaign of her own. If she were to win on both tickets, in effect she could lock up the seat months before the November general election.
Right now, GOP Chairman Val DiGeorgio says the party has no plans to seek a new candidate and instead will work with McCauley.
Republicans now could be looking at a dim prospect for a win in Chester County, with McCauley going up against a well-financed Houlahan, who is getting strong support from the national party as Democrats look to retake the House.
The old gang that represented the region in Congress is going away.
Republicans expected a tougher slog this time around.
But that rock they’ve been pushing up the hill just tumbled back to the bottom again.