Democrat joins fray over Rep. Bill Shuster's seat

Written by Jim Hook/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Jan 9, 2018 6:11 PM

Adam Sedlock, a Democrat from Indiana County, has announced that he will seek his party's nomination for Congress in Pennsylvania's 9th District. (Photo: Submitted)

(Undated) -- The field of candidates interested in winning the congressional seat left vacant by retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Everett, is growing more crowded.

Three Republicans and a Democrat have tossed their hats in the ring.  More Republicans are considering a run.

Adam Sedlock Jr., a Democrat from Indiana County, on Monday officially announced his intention to run.

"If you look at the politicos, Pennsylvania will be ground zero for congressional races," he said.

That means a historic media attention and cash for the races.

Sedlock, a 63-year-old Uniontown psychologist, has been keeping his campaign warm since losing the 2016 election. Sedlock's last-minute campaign in the Primary two years ago never got off the ground and tea party conservative Art Halvorson, a Republican, took the party nomination. Sedlock finished a distant third in the general election to Shuster and Halvorson.

Art Halvorson of Manns Choice is running for Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District seat for the third time. (Photo: File)


Sedlock said he will be better organized this time around. He's established a rapport with the Democratic chairmen in the 12 counties of Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District.

"It's time for a change," Sedlock said. "It's time to bring in someone who's not a lifetime politician and who supports the people."

So far, the Republican candidates also claim inexperience in elected office. Travis Schooley, Art Halvorson and Dayton Hornsberger have never held public office.

Several other Republicans are considering whether to join in. State Sens. John Eichelberger and Patrick Stefano are still mulling their options. Dr. John Joyce of Altoona Dermatology Associates told the Altoona Mirror that he is considering a run. State Rep. Dave Reed, House majority leader from Indiana County, is thinking about it, according to PoliticsPa.

Both Michael DelGrosso, who narrowly lost the 2004 Primary to Bill Shuster, and Sen. Richard Alloway II, R-Chambersburg, said they would not run for the office.

Hugh Jones, retired chairman of the Shippensburg University political science department, said he doesn't see any Democrat having the name identification, prestige and districtwide recognition to beat a Republican candidate.

Pennsylvania's 9th District is a Republican stronghold (+19 percentage points over Democrats), according to the Cook Political Report. Seventy-one percent of Franklin County voters in 2016 voted for Trump, 82 percent in Bedford, 84 percent in Fulton and 71 percent in Blair.

"Democrats are going to have a lot of opportunities in November," Jones said. "I don't think that's going to include Franklin County or specifically Shuster's seat. I don't see anybody who's going to have the political charisma or reputation to be a leader in the House."

Three other Congressional seats from Pennsylvania currently held by Republicans will be vacant for the 2018 election and offer better targets for Democrats.  Rep. Charlie Dent, whose 15th District includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County, is retiring. Rep. Lou Barletta, representing the 11th District, is running for the U.S. Senate. Rep. Tim Murphy, representing the 18th District near Pittsburgh, resigned abruptly in the fall amid a scandal.

Pennsylvania has 18 congressional seats -- 12 held by Republicans, five by Democrats and one vacant.

A Democrat last held the 9th District seat in the 1930s when the district included Allentown. For the past 45 years either Bill Shuster or his father, Bud, has held the seat.

"It's time to rebuild the 9th," Sedlock said. "We need innovative ways to bring job opportunities to the district. Franklin County is a pocket of prosperity."

Old steel mills in the western part of the district could be turned into factories, he said

"My vision will get things done," he said. "Donald Trump said one thing and produced nothing in return."

The three announced GOP candidates Travis Schooley of Quincy Township, Franklin County; Art Halvorson of Manns Choice, Bedford County; and Ben Hornberger of Shippensburg, Cumberland County.

Schooley and Halvorson previously ran against Shuster. Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard captain and real estate entrepreneur, ran in 2014 and 2016. Schooley, a 43-year-old grants administator for Quincy Township, made a strong showing in Franklin County when he ran in 2014.

Hornberger, a 23-year-old Marine Corp. veteran, had planned to run in 2020 against Shuster, but changed his plans when the congressman announced his retirement.

All three Republicans have campaign committees. According to the most recent campaign finance filings, Schooley's committee has $17.50 cash and Halvorson's has $17,060 with a debt of $362,000 owed to the candidate.

Hornberger and Democrat Sedlock have filed papers to organize campaign committees.

Shuster's campaign committee has more than $900,000 on hand.

Candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions on Feb. 13. Each needs 1,000 signatures from party members. The Primary is May 15.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion

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