Tags: pennslyvania | pitts | gop

Pa. Open Seat Has GOP Scrambling

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Rep. Pitts (AP)

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Friday, 06 Nov 2015 04:16 PM Current | Bio | Archive

With Rep. Joe Pitts, R.-Penn., making his long-anticipated retirement official Friday morning, the stage is now set for a Republican free-for-all in Pennsylvania’s 16th District.

It has long been taken for granted that the succession to 10-termer Pitts, 76, would be determined in the Republican primary next April, given the unbroken history of the district in sending Republicans to Congress since before the Civil War.

As a state legislator in 1996, Pitts topped a five-candidate primary with 45 percent of the vote in the race to succeed his fellow conservative stalwart, retiring Rep. Bob Walker. Few doubt that the nomination battle in five months will be just as crowded and contested.

For months, the rumored “heir apparent” to Pitts has been Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin, one-time high school athlete and close friend of the congressman. More recently, however, there have been suggestions that Martin may forgo the race in 2016.

Whether Martin runs or not, GOP sources in Lancaster told me State Sen. Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster will “definitely” make the race. Smucker, who represents the city of Lancaster, is considered more centrist than Pitts or Walker.

Two longtime activists on the right are reportedly eyeing a House bid: Don Eberly, onetime deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under George W. Bush, and Chet Beiler, former Lancaster County GOP chairman and past candidate for lieutenant governor and state auditor-general.

Sources on the right in the district privately say that Eberly and Beiler are personally friendly and would most likely agree that one but not both would run in order to keep the conservative vote from being split.

The most famous Republican to represent the district was Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, who pressed Abraham Lincoln for outright abolition of slavery and a hard-line against the defeated South. Stevens, who house is an historic site in Lancaster, was immortalized by actor Tommy Lee Jones in the film “Lincoln.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.   

 

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With Rep. Joe Pitts, R.-Penn., making his long-anticipated retirement official Friday morning, the stage is now set for a Republican free-for-all in Pennsylvania’s 16th District.
pennslyvania, pitts, gop
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2015-16-06
Friday, 06 Nov 2015 04:16 PM
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