By Jim Ellis
March 27, 2018 — Today we finish our look at the new Pennsylvania filings from Districts 10 thru 18, but first must mention a new story floating in the Washington Post and throughout the local Philadelphia media.Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester), after filing for re-election, is already dropping out of the race. In withdrawing, the two-term incumbent virtually hands the seat to Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, a first-time candidate for any office, because the local Republican Party will have no way of replacing him. Attorney Greg McCauley filed in the Republican primary and becomes the party nominee now that Costello has backed away. It is unclear why Costello filed for re-election if he was not serious about running.
District 10: Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York)
Though new District 10, that now includes all of the York and Harrisburg metro areas, is more Democratic than Perry’s previous 4th District, President Trump still posted a nine percentage point win during the 2016 presidential election contest. Rep. Perry is unopposed in the Republican primary and draws five Democratic opponents, including 2016 congressional nominee Christina Hartman who suffered a decided loss to freshman Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) in an adjoining district. Hartman raised over $1.1 million for her first congressional effort, and was originally seeking a re-match with Rep. Smucker. When the new redistricting plan left him with a solidly Republican district, she moved here even though none of her previous territory transferred to new CD-10.
The remaining Democratic field includes a former Obama administration staff member, a retired Air Force non-commissioned officer, a minister, and an epidemiologist. Rep. Perry is a heavy favorite for re-election.
District 11: Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster)
If there was a big Republican winner in the court-mandated redistricting plan, it was Rep. Lloyd Smucker who sees his district returning to a Lancaster-anchored CD, with the remaining territory shifting westward. President Trump ran at a 60-35 percent clip in the new 11th, considerably better than in his former 16th District, which was beginning to trend more Democratic. Only non-profit organization executive Jess King filed in the Democratic primary after former nominee Christina Hartman departed for the neighboring 10th District. The freshman congressman and veteran state legislator draws former Lancaster County Republican Party chairman Chet Beiler as a primary opponent. Rep. Smucker is secure for re-election.
District 12: Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport)
The new 12th CD is a sprawling north-central Pennsylvania district that contains 13 whole counties and parts of two others. Four-term Rep. Marino should have little trouble retaining this new seat that contains 68 percent of his previous constituency. The congressman first faces Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko in the Republican primary. Two Democrats, neither of whom have previously run for any prior office, battle for their party nomination. Rep. Marino will easily clinch a fifth congressional term.
District 13: Open Seat (Safe Republican)
The new 13th District is comprised of Republican territory from six different CDs, the majority of which comes from retiring Rep. Bill Shuster’s (R-Hollidaysburg/Altoona) former 9th District. The battle to succeed the outgoing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman will be settled in the Republican primary. Eight Republicans, including two state legislators, two military veterans, a physician, a businessman, and two frequent candidates, do battle in the May 15th Republican primary. The winner will easily defeat former school board member Brent Ottaway in the general election. President Trump topped 71 percent in this new CD.
District 14: Open Seat (Safe Republican)
The new western Pennsylvania 14th District contains 57 percent of the former 18th, the electorate from which just elected Democrat Conor Lamb in the March 13 special election. The new CD-14 Republican primary features a rerun of the special Republican convention contest that again pits defeated nominee Rick Saccone opposite state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Park), but in a primary contest. The new 14th is considerably more conservative than the former 18th CD, which could help Saccone. Many believed that Sen. Reschenthaler would have easily won the special if he had prevailed in convention. This primary will allow us to determine if such post-election speculation is correct. Democrats have four candidates, but the GOP winner takes the seat in November.
District 15: Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Howard)
Rep. Glenn Thompson is also a winner under the new redistricting map. He gets a sprawling 70 percent Trump northwest to central Pennsylvania district that contains 57 percent of the voters from his previous 5th CD. With no Republican opponent, Rep. Thompson will have little trouble in the general election against minor Democratic opposition.
District 16: Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler/Erie)
The new 16th, which hugs the Ohio border from Lake Erie all the way to the northern Pittsburgh suburbs, is a Trump plus-20 percent district that will be safe for veteran Rep. Mike Kelly. Retaining 81 percent of his previous 3rd District territory, Kelly is unopposed in the May 15 Republican primary and will face one of three Democrats, two of who are defeated previous candidates. Rep. Kelly is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.
District 17: Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley)
Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh)
Newly elected Rep. Conor Lamb has chosen to run in this new Pittsburgh suburban district despite having to face a veteran Republican incumbent in a tilting Republican district that contains 56 percent of his opponent’s constituency base. Though just winning the March 13 special election, Lamb will only see 20 percent of his new constituency follow him into District 17. On the other hand, this new CD is much more hospitable to a Democratic candidate, and the $15-plus million in combined special election spending was largely expended in the Pittsburgh media market. Therefore, his name identification here is high.
Rep. Rothfus was first elected to the former 12th District in 2012, defeating then-incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D-Johnstown), 52-48 percent. He has won strong re-elections in the succeeding two campaigns. Rep. Rothfus, preparing for what he foresaw as a potentially unfavorable redistricting for him, amassed close to $1.5 million for this campaign and professes to be ready for a tough general election fight. The new 17th is a 49-47 percent Trump district. This race could become the premier 2018 Pennsylvania congressional campaign and must be rated as a toss-up.
District 18: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh)
Rep. Doyle gets a solid Democratic seat that includes most of the city of Pittsburgh, and 76% of his former constituency. He draws only minor opposition in the Democratic primary. Shannon Edwards, who had the extra-marital affair with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) that ultimately forced him to resign, had filed to run in the Republican primary but failed to even qualify for the ballot.