With eyes from the press and official Washington riveted last week on the politics behind the government shutdown, few could be blamed for not noticing the surprise resignation Thursday of Rep. Tom Marino, R.-Pa.
Republican operatives in the nation’s capital as well as throughout the Keystone State almost certainly did notice five-termer Marino’s exodus because it created a situation few— if any of them want: the first special U.S. House election since the 2018 midterm elections and one that is sure to draw national press attention.
The scenario of a special U.S. House election in Pennsylvania is indeed alarming to most GOP activists. Last year, centrist Democrat Conor Lamb won a close-but-decisive special election race in the historically Republican 4th District (Western Pennsylvania).
With Marino resigning twelve days after being sworn in for his fifth term, a process has been set in motion for both major parties to select nominees through a special districtwide convention rather than primaries. The dates for selection of nominees and the subsequent special election will shortly be set by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Newsmax has learned that phone calls and “insider campaigns” are already beginning on behalf of three Republican hopefuls: State Rep, Mike Peifer, former State Rep. Sandy Major — both considered strong conservatives in the mold of Sen. Pat Toomey, R.-Pa.—and Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko, who unsuccessfully challenged Marino in the ’18 primary and then refused to support him in the fall.
Peifer is well-liked by colleagues in the legislature and was recently elected chairman of the House Finance Committee. But he is from Pike County on the edge of the district and, as one Pennsylvania Republican told us, “he may be geographically polarized.”
Privately worried about the women’s vote, many 12th District Republicans hope they can convince Major, who served in the legislature from 1996-2016, to come out of retirement and make the race. Long considered a star with potential for higher office, former Susquehanna County Treasurer Major rose to become chairman of the House GOP Conference.
The big question about her is whether, at 64, she wants to go back on the campaign trail.
McLinko is the lone contender among “the big three” who arouses animosity. Having challenged Marino as an “insider” and lost by 2-to-1, McLinko was asked after the primary if he supported the incumbent in the fall.
“I wish him well,” was all he said.
As much as Democrats smell a possible pick-up, they so far have no candidate. The name most often discussed is that of former Rep. Chris Carney, who held the district from 2006 until his defeat to Marino in 2010. But U.S. Navy Reserve officer Carney has been silent since leaving Congress.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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