No joke: GOP can­di­da­cies up for grabs

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - OPINION -

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.

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