PA-13: Arkoosh Named a ‘Game Changer’

Val-Arkoosh-portrait1Val Arkoosh is the only one of the four Democratic candidates in PA-13 without any political experience, which would seem to make her the perfect candidate to be a game changer.

That is just what she’s been labeled by the Women’s Campaign Fund. The WCF is a non-partisan group that seeks to elect pro-choice women into office regardless of party.

Their Game Changer initiative was set up to highlight 40 different women throughout the country. “It’s a vision of the future we want to see for our government,” they write. “And a roadmap of how we’re going to get there.”

“Dr. Valerie Arkoosh isn’t a career politician,” the WCF says in explanation of her designation as a game changer. “She is a physician, parent of three, and a community leader. As a practicing obstetric anesthesiologist, she has helped thousands of women of all ages, incomes, and backgrounds. In Congress, she would be a credible, vocal advocate for women’s healthcare and reproductive rights.”

“Women’s Campaign Fund is exceptionally proud to endorse Val Arkoosh in her race for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District,” said Clare Bresnahan, Political & Programs Director for WCF. “It would be fitting if the seat currently held by the only woman in the Pennsylvania delegation were to be represented by another strong, highly qualified woman leader like Val.”

“Women’s Campaign Fund has been with me since the beginning of my campaign last year, and I’m honored to be selected for their “Game Changer” initiative,” Arkoosh responded. “WCF believes that we change the political game by changing the players. That’s how we’re going to challenge the status quo and stand up for the most critical issues facing women and families in our communities.”

Other Democratic candidates in the race for PA-13 include State Rep. Brendan Boyle, State Sen. Daylin Leach and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies.

PA-13: Leach Debuts New Childhood Ad (Watch)

Democratic State Senator and PA-13 candidate Daylin Leach released a new ad today briefly detailing his experience in foster care as a child and how he plans to help those who need it most in office.

The ad begins with grainy shots of a young boy, going through the motions in a presumably difficult childhood. “I remember the day my mom said she could no longer afford to keep me,” Leach narrates. “I grew up in foster homes across northeast Philly.”

Present-day Leach then appears, and talks about how he wants to use his rough and tumble experiences as a child to help others who may also be in a tough situation. “I’ve never been afraid to take on bullies like Governor Corbett and the NRA,” he says. Leach’s mention of the National Rifle Association refers to the “F” rating that the interest group bestowed upon him for his support of gun control.

“In Congress, I’ll protect social security,” Leach continues, “and a woman’s right to choose. I’ll fight for good schools and great jobs, and to put Wall Street crooks in jail.”

The ad ends with a shot, perhaps meant to tug at the heartstrings, of Leach surrounded by happy-looking children. The rowdy bunch gives an excited cheer as Leach wraps up his ad with the promise to help those who need it because he was also once in a situation where he needed help.

This is Leach’s first television ad, to be run on broadcast and cable television, as well as over the Internet. The ad comes on the heels of a successful first quarter for the candidate, where his fundraising efforts landed him on the list of PoliticsPA’s Q1 winners. Leach is the first candidate in the PA-13 race to air a commercial on broadcast television.

Also running in Pennsylvania’s 13th district are physician Val Arkoosh, former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, and State Rep. Brendan Boyle.

PA-13: Boyle Begins TV Ad Campaign

State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) released his first television ad today in his campaign for the Democratic nomination in PA-13.

“[My wife and I are] not millionaires like every one of my opponents,” Boyle says in the ad. “Right now half of Congress are millionaires but they pay lower taxes than firefighters and teachers. I think their priorities are screwed up. Congress refuses to raise the minimum wage and then cuts programs for the middle class.”

boyle ad 1“Over 20 different labor unions endorsed me because defending working class families is my priority,” Boyle concludes.

The thirty second spot will run on a hundred thousand dollar buy on twenty cable networks over the next two weeks.

This will put a big dent in Boyle’s cash on hand, which at the end of the first quarter was just $398,237, compared to the over $600,000 that State Senator Daylin Leach and physician/activist Valerie Arkoosh have.

Leach also launched his media buy today.

Also running for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies.

Democratic PAC Ignores PA Races

uscapitol-washingtondc-picture1A Democratic super PAC, the House Majority PAC, reserved ad time in the fall in twenty-four congressional districts. At the moment, no PA district is included on their list.

The goal of House Majority PAC, of course, is to make sure the Democrats become the majority party in the House. Unfortunately for Democrats, given the organization’s target list, it doesn’t appear they believe they can accomplish this in 2014.

Only six of the twenty-four districts in which they’ve bought ads are seats currently held by Republicans and all six are in states that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. All the other districts contain Democrats trying to hold onto their seats.

Although no PA districts have been selected by the group as of yet, that doesn’t mean that will remain the case. Pennsylvania’s 8th District, for example, is seen by many prognosticators as perhaps the party’s best chance in the state but there is currently a competitive Democratic primary between businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton and Afghan and Iraq War vet Kevin Strouse.

There is one person being left out in the cold, though, and that’s PA-6 Democratic candidate Manan Trivedi. With Gerlach’s retirement, PA-6 should be the most competitive it has been in years. Yet the open seat is not seen by this Democratic group as a prime pick-up opportunity even though (or perhaps because) this will be Trivedi’s third straight time on the ballot.

According to PoliticoPro, the group has indexed $6.5 million for its campaign so far. The districts on their list are included below:

—  Arizona’s 1st District. Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is the incumbent. Total reservation: $420,785

— Arizona’s 2nd District. Democratic Rep. Ron Barber is the incumbent. Total reservation: $138,693

— Arizona’s 9th District. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is the incumbent. Total reservation: $420,785

— California’s 7th District. Democratic Rep. Ami Bera is the incumbent. Total reservation: $189,610

— California’s 36th District. Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz is the incumbent. Total reservation: $112,219

— California’s 52nd District. Democratic Rep. Scott Peters is the incumbent. Total reservation: $512,190

— Colorado’s 6th District. GOP Rep. Mike Coffman is the incumbent. Total reservation: $425,330

— Florida’s 2nd District. GOP Rep. Steve Southerland is the incumbent. Total reservation: $232,120

— Florida’s 18th District.  Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy is the incumbent. Total reservation: $561,423

— Florida’s 26th District. Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia is the incumbent. Total reservation: $175,894

— Iowa’s 3rd District. GOP Rep. Tom Latham is the incumbent, but he is retiring and the seat is vacant. Total reservation in the district is $125,127

— Illinois’s 10th District.  Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider is the incumbent. Total reservation: $229,354

— Illinois’s 13th District. GOP Rep. Rodney Davis is the incumbent. Total reservation is $143,878

— Illinois’s 17th District.  Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos is the incumbent. Total reservation is $128,898

— Massachusetts’s 6th District. Democratic Rep. John Tierney is the incumbent. Total reservation is $124,020

— Minnesota’s 2nd District. GOP Rep. John Kline is the incumbent. Total reservation: $329,371

— Minnesota’s 8th District. Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan is the incumbent. Total reservation: $354,265

— New Hampshire’s 1st District. Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is the incumbent. Total reservation: $162,253

— New Hampshire’s 2nd District. Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster is the incumbent. Total reservation: $162,253

— New York’s 1st District. Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop is the incumbent. Total reservation: $394,706

— New York’s 11th District. GOP Rep. Michael Grimm is the incumbent. Total reservation: $162,759

— New York’s 18th District. Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is the incumbent. Total reservation $565,900

— New York’s 24th District — supporting Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei. Total reservation: $166,254

— Texas’s 23rd District. Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego is the incumbent. Total reservation: $221,347

Q1: Winners & Losers

cashThe finance reports have been filed, posted and picked apart. See who made the list.


Daylin Leach (D-13)

The State Senator has posted consistent fundraising numbers in previous quarters, but 2014 looks to be his year. In Q1, he came out in front of the widest congressional primary pack in the state.

Leach raised $335,660; physician Valerie Arkoosh came in second with $220,474; former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies in third with $211,178 raised; and State Rep. Brendan Boyle in a distant fourth with just $114,246.

Reasonable spending puts him in a close second of cash-on-hand at $654,202, certainly enough to put him on the airwaves in the last weeks of the primary race.

Bill Shuster (R-9)

The Congressman from Blair County represents one of the most conservative districts in the state and thereby will fight his larger battle in the Republican primary, but if fundraising is any indication of the upcoming election results, he’s stomping the competition.

Shuster brought in a whopping $737,379 for the first three months of 2014. He spent even more than he raised with a strong media campaign: $844,093, but was still left with a comfortable $1,252,482 cash on hand.

Tea Party opponent Art Halvorson only managed to raise $8,821.21 while spending $24,727.33. Halvorson has $56,492.52 in cash on hand. Travis Schooley gained a total of $9,602.49, spent $4,581.02 and has $5,692.13 cash on hand.

Erin McClelland (D-12)

After posting unimpressive numbers in Q4, McClelland kicked things into a higher gear in 2014. While she hasn’t quite caught up to incumbent Rep. Keith Rothfus, she looks far better poised to win the Democratic primary.

She raised $58,117, posted $47,145.54 spent and $31,619.29 cash on hand. Her better-known opponent, John Hugya brings up the rear with $19,730 raised, $24,285 spent and $20,441.45 cash on hand. Hugya was the chief of staff to former Rep. John Murtha while McClelland is a businesswoman and first-time candidate. She’s got a long way to go to be competitive with Rothfus, but Q1 was a good sign for her chances next month against Hugya.


Brendan Boyle (D-13)

The State Rep and congressional candidate had a disappointing quarter in a tough race. He brought in just $114,246, which would be an impressive amount were he not competing in a four-way primary for a safely Democratic seat.

This is even a decrease from Q4, where he raised $140,000. The last quarter of the year is typically slow, given that several major holidays fall in the period, making fundraisers more difficult to schedule.

He didn’t spend much, $97,111, but his cash on hand, $398,237, will not buy him the sort of exposure that Arkoosh and Leach will be able to afford.

Manan Trivedi (D-6)

This is Trivedi’s third time campaigning as a Democrat in PA-6, having lost to Gerlach in the general by large margins in both 2010 and 2012. But this time around he does not have to worry about the popular Gerlach and he even won the support of his only primary challenger, Mike Parish, last month following Parrish’s withdrawal.

But Trivedi raised just $132,416.50, but has yet to spend much — only $19,387.89. He sports $111,831.52 cash on hand and is not held down by any debts.

A great deal of his funding in this quarter also came from personal and familial contributions. One would have expected a stronger base of support for a candidate who had previously run in the district, especially since he believed he would have a primary challenger for most of the period.

Additionally, Trivedi’s results pale in comparison to his Republican adversary, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello who raised $344,450.

Raj Kittappa (D-16)

Kittappa’s report fails to mirror the activities of a candidate running a campaign against a primary challenger who hopes to face a powerful incumbent. Of the contributions totaling just over $7K, Kittappa’s family members make up $5,200 of donations.

It’s puzzling as to why the Democratic candidate hasn’t spent any money, and it certainly isn’t a good sign as he moves into a primary battle with former State Rep. Tom Houghton, who was recruited by and raised $29,587

PA-5: Thompson Raises And Spends Like An Incumbent

Glenn-Thompson-portraitRep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Centre) has proved that he can raise and keep cash like an incumbent, definitively outraising Democratic opponent Kerith Strano Taylor. The other Dem in the race, Thomas Tarantella, has yet to file a report.

Thompson raised $134,763.82, spent $112,027.28 and currently has $282,741.22 cash on hand after the first quarter. Taylor raised $24,009.19, spent $11,904.62 and currently has $11,904.57 cash on hand.


Thompson’s report lists a lengthy number of donors, both individual and organization. Notably, he received $1,500 from the Koch Industries PAC and $3,000 from the coal company Alpha Natural Resources PAC.

The Congressman also managed to spend his money like an incumbent, clocking in at a bit over $110K. $25,257.86 of that went to advertising and public relations, which seemed to take up the most space on his list. There was also, of course, fundraising, payroll and various travel fees.

Thompson owes zero dollars in debt.


Despite her attempt to run a Congressional race against an incumbent, Taylor’s campaign finance report doesn’t do much to reflect that. Most of her donations came from individual donors, with only two organizations gifting a grand total of $200. Her biggest donation of $2,600 came from Eric Haggerson, who’s listed as Senior of Regulatory Affairs at T-Mobile. There were also many in-kind donations from her law firm, aptly named Taylor Law Firm.

Taylor’s list of expenses contained a solid amount of PayPal fees, along with many in-kind payments and various small charges. Taylor currently owes zero dollars in debt.

Taylor announced her intent to run on a snowy morning back in February. Thompson’s other Democratic opponent, Tarantella, beat her to the punch with an announcement in December of 2013, but has yet to post his finance report from the first quarter of 2014.

Thompson has a history of easily keeping his seat in the 5th district. Most recently, in the 2012 election, he garnered 62.9% of the vote against Democrat Charles Dumas’ 37.1%. The district is rated R+8 on the Cook PVI scale.

PA-13: Exclusive Interview with Marjorie Margolies

DSC01441Marjorie Margolies is the highest-profile candidate in the race to replace Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania’s 13th district.

Famous for her one-term stint from 1993 to 1995 when she cast the deciding vote in favor of the 1993 omnibus budget bill, Margolies is once again seeking the 13th seat. I had the opportunity to talk to the candidate at her headquarters, a house that her campaign transformed into an office.

We talked literally at her kitchen table about the issues and dynamics of the Democratic primary. One interesting tidbit, the campaign produced massive blow-ups of photos of President Clinton and the Congresswoman together for their fundraiser and afterwards hung them up around the house. So it was that this interview took place under a giant photo of Bill and Marjorie from the 1992 campaign.

Motivations to run for Congress

I started with the question every candidate hears the most, why do want to run for Congress?

“In 1991, I was asked to run for Congress,” Margolies began. “Honestly, I think they just didn’t want nobody on the ballot. I think they just wanted a candidate on the ballot. I got into the race and at no time did I think I would win. I mean honestly when I went into election night I only had a concession speech.”

She says that she was as shocked as everyone else when she won and had displayed a healthy attitude towards her 1994 defeat. “So, I went in and was asked to leave. Bye-bye,” she summarized. Then after fifteen years of enjoyable work with her group Women’s Campaign International, another opportunity arose.

“Then when Allyson decided to run for Governor I got, it was probably a truckload, I got quite a few calls from people saying ‘Why don’t you look into this’ and that is how it started,” she explained. “I’m running because I never stopped dealing with the issues I thought were important.”

After I suggested that she seemed over the exhausting nature of Congress in some recent interviews she maintained that she loved the job and her memories of her service factored into her decision to “seize the moment.”

“I remember with great fondness what we were able to get done,” she explained. “I loved the constituent work, I mean I was shocked by how much we could get done on a 1-on-1 human interaction, how many people we could help.”

The Opposition

Next, we moved on to the subject of her three primary opponents and I noted that in every forum where she has been absent, they have taken the opportunity to hit her for ignoring the voters by not attending these events. Margolies clearly expected this question and was so enthusiastic she actually physically raised her hand to jump in.

“I would like to tell you the following, let me stop you in the middle of this. Do you how many times I debated John Fox [in 1992]?,” she asked. “Thirteen times, I set the bar for debates. We basically said when I got in this race that as soon as we knew who was gonna be on the ballot, when all the signatures were in, I would debate three times. That was it. I’m certainly not afraid of debating.”

When I mentioned my surprise that she attacked all her opponents in her closing statement at the Abington debate she attended she defended the legitimacy of her charges.

“Well, I really feel that way, I think they’re the issues we all agree on…but I can tell you Brendan Boyle and I, Planned Parenthood says he’s not 100% pro-choice and I do not think that you can replace somebody in this race in this district with somebody who is not 100% pro-choice. I think that’s very important and he does, he calls us millionaires. I’m not. I think that some of the most progressive members of the Senate and the House have been millionaires so I don’t think that’s an argument that holds a lot of water.”

We then moved on to her somewhat lackluster financial report and Margolies insisted that their campaign is right on track.

“We have run the race exactly the way we thought we should, exactly,” she asserted. “We knew what we had to do where, we knew what we wanted to do at this point. We are at this point where we want to be. We also knew that a load of our money, getting us onto television and everything like that, was gonna come in this fourth quarter. When Clinton came in. We knew that, it’s pretty simple.”

“The other thing is if you look at the polls and I’m sure you have, name recognition is very important. What does happen, if you have painted a target on your chest, they’re gonna come at ya, and if the question is was I ready for it, sure.”

Foreign Policy

Given her experience in WCI, Margolies has far more foreign policy expertise than the typical congressional candidate, so we tackled the most pressing foreign policy issue of the moment, Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

“I actually went with a congressional delegation to Kiev and I was in Maindan Square,” she revealed. “It was right before the Orange Revolution. I talked to a lot of people and I can tell the people with whom we had conversations, the people in Maindan Square, wanted independence. There’s no question about that fact.”

“Now I think they are different places in the country where that changes,” Margolies continued. “It’s almost a ripple, as you move around the country and hear more people speaking only Russian. I think this is extremely confusing for the average citizen, people don’t know ‘Who are those people demonstrating outside, who are the people inside’ it’s a very hard [situation].”


Of course, there was the obligatory question on the Affordable Care Act and whether Democrats can turn it into an advantage in the midterms.

“I think this is the same type of thing as Social Security, when Republicans were initially against it. This is gonna need time, I think we’ve turned the corner with regards to expectations and numbers and things like that, it looks like we’re moving in the right direction.”

“We have to see how many young people sign up. Young people want healthcare,” she asserted citing her experience as a Professor at UPenn. “Anybody who says young people don’t care, that they think they’re invincible, that’s baloney.”

Social Security

I also asked about her positions on Social Security, her 1994 bills to change the program and her opponents attacks that she will support changes to Social Security if she is elevated once more to office.

“I don’t wanna increase the age, I don’t wanna cut benefits…That is so intellectually dishonest,” she definitively responded. “When we were dealing with it when we had the entitlement conference 20 years ago, we had to put everything on the table. I don’t feel that way anymore. I think that Social Security is of the three [Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid], the least that we have to worry about. It’s the target on the chest, it’s just not true.”

I also inquired whether her 1994 bills were simply a political ploy, part of the well-worn tradition of members of Congress introducing bills that have no realistic chance of passage in order to grandstand or make a point. While Margolies agreed many members of Congress do this, she stated that her efforts in 1994 were not motivated by politics.

“It was a very different time, the numbers were very different. It was responsible,” she said. “Have I changed since then? I have. Maybe because what was put into place was put into place and it did have significant effect.”

The made clear that the change she was referring to was the increase of the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. She also stated that she supports lifting the FICA tax cap on those making more than $500,000 a year.

“No, I do not think the age should be raised anymore, I am against that and I don’t think there should be anymore deductions,” Margolies said while comparing her opponents tactics to Newt Gingrich’s “Mediscare” methods. “These folks are trying to scare seniors into thinking that I want to cut their benefits. I do not and I don’t think we should raise the age anymore. It’s intellectually dishonest.”

“My position has evolved,” she concluded.


Finally, when asked to choose jobs or the deficit as our economic priority, Margolies insisted the two are intertwined.

“It’s all about growth,” she explained. “You grow the economy and the rest follows, it’s not about trickle-down. It is about growing the economy and once we do that and put more money in the hands of the middle class, they’ll spend it and it all kinda works its way into the middle.”


When asked what member of Congress would serve as a role model, Margolies talked about her admiration for Senator Elizabeth Warren and her efforts to bring a 21st century Glass-Steagall Act. She also praised Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.

Concerning potential committees, she commented that “I had the best committees when I was there last time. And I would love to go back to those committees.” Margolies stated that she served on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Telecommunications Sub-committee, the Small Business Committee and the Government Operations Committee.

Of course, we also talked about her famous 1993 budget vote and though she’s told the story countless times, one section stood out as an example of the former Congresswoman’s philosophy.

“When I went down there, in a million years I never thought I’d be the vote. When you walk into your office, people do not call in when they’re happy, they call when they’re, how you say, pissed. They call in when they’re angry, they call in when they’re annoyed.” Despite all the repercussions of that vote, she remains confident she did the right thing by putting the welfare of the nation over her own political career.

“I did know one thing,” she said at one point “and that is that it had to pass.”


PA-12: AFL-CIO Endorses McClelland



Labor magnate AFL-CIO endorsed Erin McClelland over John Hugya in the Democratic primary for PA-12.

“The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is proud to support Erin McCelland to be the next representative of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional district,” said President Rick Bloomingdale. “Ms. McClelland has the vision and the drive to get things done in Congress that will bring jobs back to Pennsylvania and improve the lives of workers and their families.”

“I could not be more honored to have the support of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO for my campaign to bring real family values back to Congress,” said McClelland after receiving the endorsement. “My great-grandfather organized for CIO in response to poor working conditions at Pittsburgh Plate & Glass, and it’s an unbelievable honor to carry on the family tradition of fighting for working families.”

McClelland’s campaign has scored a host of endorsements in her first run for public office, including Women’s Campaign Fund, IBEW Local 5, IBEW Local 29, USW Local 1196, the Allegheny County Labor Council, the Beaver County Labor Council, and the Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, and Westmoreland County Democratic Committees and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Her opponent, John Hugya, was a former Chief of Staff to Congressman John Murtha, who represented the district before Mark Critz. Critz was defeated by Rep. Keith Rothfus, following a redistricting that was highly advantageous to Republicans.

A Democrat winning the seat is an uphill battle, particularly given the state of the money race after the first quarter of the year. Rothfus raised $241,253 and spent $93,793. Adding insult to injury for his opponents, the Republican has $1,019,907 cash on hand. McClelland doesn’t quite manage to come close to Rothfus. She has $58,117 raised, $47,145.54 spent and $31,619.29 cash on hand. Hugya brings up the rear with $19,730 raised, $24,285 spent and $20,441.45 cash on hand.

PA-6: National Orgs Step Up




Primary season may be heating up in other races, but in PA-6 the general election contest is already starting.

With Ryan Costello and Manan Trivedi each appearing to be the eventual Republican and Democratic nominees respectively, their national parties are beginning to lend a hand of support.

For Costello, this support comes in the form of being promoted to a “Contender” in the NRCC’s “Young Guns” program. The Young Guns were formed in 2007 by the powerful triumvirate of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Budget Chairman and 2012 Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

“Voters believe strongly that the country is on the wrong track because of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s failed legislation, like ObamaCare. Ryan Costello has reached the ‘Contender’ status because he is exemplary of the new leadership needed in Washington D.C. to turn our country around and provide a check and balance in Washington,” said NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden. “I am confident that Ryan will continue to work hard for his district and bring sound, conservative principles to Congress.”

Trivedi, meanwhile, is getting help from DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They will be joined by Zainab Javed, a student from Erie who received Pell Grants to attend college,  on a conference call aimed to showcase the harms that would be caused by the Ryan budget.

“[They will] discuss how the House Republican budget, authored by Paul Ryan and supported by Rep. Jim Gerlach, gives tax breaks to the wealthiest while raising taxes on middle-class families in Pennsylvania by at least $2,000,” according to the DNC’s press release.

Costello and Trivedi are competing for the state’s 6th congressional district, a seat occupied by GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach, who announced his impending retirement back in January.


PA-9: Shuster Obliterates Primary Opposition in Q1

Rep. Shuster

Rep. Shuster

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair) is quite serious about keeping his seat in the 9th district. So much so, in fact, that he outraised his opponents several times over during the first quarter.

Shuster brought in a whopping $737,379 for the first three months of 2014. He spent even more than he raised with a strong media campaign: $844,093, and is left with a comfortable $1,252,482 cash on hand.

Tea Party opponent Art Halvorson only managed to raise $8,821.21 while spending $24,727.33. Halvorson has $56,492.52 in cash on hand. Travis Schooley gained a total of $9,602.49, spent $4,581.02 and has $5,692.13 cash on hand.


The incumbent used his recognition throughout the 9th district to his advantage, gaining many contributions from individual donors. Shuster also had quite a few generous organization and PAC donations. The Airports Council International – North America donated $5,000 for the first quarter, the American Gas Association PAC gave $2,000 and the Exxon Mobil Corporation PAC gave $4,000.

For the most part, Shuster’s expenses were quite typical for an incumbent campaign. Worth noting, though, is the fact that over $500K, or about 60%, of his money spent went to Red Maverick Media for ads and mail. So far, he has zero in debts owed.


Compared to Shuster’s $700K raised, Halvorson’s grassroots campaign has some work to do in the weeks before the May primary. Fellow Halvorsons James and Carolyn donated a combined $1,500. In fact, all of his donors were individuals, leaving him with no PAC money.

Of his expenses, Halvorson paid $6,500 to Rockwood Strategies in Harrisburg for advertising, commercials and radio spots. Most of his money spent, though, went to paying campaign employees Ron Robertson, Brian Livingston and David Show.

Regarding debts, Halvorson is listed as having $100,000 in debt. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the $100K loan is from Halvorson’s own personal funds. It is quite possible that he will give himself more loans in the near future, independently wealthy as he is.


Bringing up the rear is Shuster’s much less talked about but still present Republican opponent, Travis Schooley. For the first quarter, he didn’t even manage to break $10K in money raised. All of his donors were individuals, with family member Gary Schooley gifting $150. His largest donation was counted as an in-kind contribution from himself: $2,075.48.

Where did that $2K go to? Schooley spent it on signs for his campaign. Another $1,000 went toward door hangers to further help spread the word. He’s listed as having zero dollars in debt.

Shuster’s district has been rated the most conservative in Pennsylvania, ringing in at R+14 from Cook PVI. In 2012, the incumbent won the race to keep his seat against Democrat Karen Ramsburg, 61.7% of the vote to 38.3%. Schooley attempted to run against Shuster for the Republican primary nomination in 2012, but had to withdraw because of challenges to his petition signatures.

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