PA12: Wheeland Announces Intentions For GOP Nomination
State Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming, Union) announced his candidacy for the Republican primary for the special election in the 12th House District.
In a press release announcing his bid, Wheeland thanked Marino for his service for the region and boasted about President Donald Trump’s agenda, while stating his concern for the current state of affairs in Congress.
“I support President Donald Trump’s America First Agenda which has led to more jobs, a reinvigorated economy and repositioned our nation as a world leader,” Wheeland said in a statement. “With that being said, I am deeply concerned about the current state of affairs in Congress.”
Wheeland was first elected to represent the 83rd District in 2014 after defeating incumbent three-term state Rep. Rick Mirabito (D-Lycoming). He comfortably won his most recent re-election bid in November by besting Democrat, Airneezer Page-Delahaye.
Prior to holding a seat in the state House, Wheeland was the Lycoming County Commissioner.
Wheeland called out the “political gamesmanship” in Congress in a call for building the wall and specifically referenced opposing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
“I am adamantly opposed to the big government; anti-job agenda being pushed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” he said in a statement. “I am a reformer, support term limits and believe we must drain the swamp.”
He also touted being a lifelong member of the NRA, being pro-life, and being a staunch opponent of higher taxes, which he believes stifles job growth.
The GOP friendly 12th District voted for President Trump by over a 35 point margin in 2016, while Marino was the first Pennsylvania Congressman to endorse his candidacy in the GOP primary. Trump selected Marino to be the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, but was never confirmed, in part due to a Washington Post/60 Minutes report detailing his role pushing a bill that “undermined” the DEA.
Marino had just begun his fifth term in Congress last month.
It’s expected to be a crowded field on the GOP side for the open seat. Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that in addition to Wheeland, fellow state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Snyder), former Marino primary challenger and Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko, Iraq War veteran and businesswoman Stacy Garrity, among others are interested in the GOP nomination.
This week, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party officially nominated Marc Friedenberg as their candidate. Friedenberg, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State, where he teaches cybersecurity and cyber-law courses, was the Democratic candidate in November against Marino.
The Republican Party will select their nominee for the seat on March 2.
The special election date is set for May 21, the same day as the Pennsylvania primary.