Battle Already Underway to Succeed Marino in PA-10

Clockwise from top-left: Weber, Wheeland, Keller, McLinko, Scavello, Mussare

The special election train is continuing to travel the country and northeast Pennsylvania its next stop. News broke Tuesday that Congressman Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) will be stepping down to join the Trump Administration.  

Rumors of the move had circulated among Republicans for weeks and potential candidates have worked to position themselves.

“This was one of the worst kept secret in politics,” one source told PoliticsPA.  

PoliticsPA has spoken with a dozens sources in the northeast Pa. district to learn who are the frontrunners for each party’s nomination. More on the special election conferee process below.

The district is heavily Republican and went for Trump by a wider margin than other open seats (eg. Georgia’s 6th and Kansas’ 4th). But Democrats may look for an opening in a seat that their party held from 2006 to 2010 (before redistricting), especially if they run competitively in other upcoming races.

A large number of possible candidates have expressed an interest in the seat, or have had others float their names. On the Republican side, PoliticsPA has confirmed that five people are actively preparing to run:  

State Representative Fred Keller (R-Snyder), Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko, Lycoming County Commissioner Tony Mussare, State Senator Mario Scavello, and State Representative Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming).  

There is a potential sixth candidate as well. Several sources said Marino’s District Director Dave Weber is one of the top names being rumored, if he decides to get into the race. Weber has worked for Marino since he was first elected to Congress and would be expected to have his boss’s support.   

McLinko is a fourth term County Commissioner in Bradford County and is serving his second term a Commission Chairman.    

“Marino has done a terrific job, for the 10th, and I think I would do a good job of continuing his work,” McLinko told PoliticsPA in a phone interview. He floated a possible primary challenge to Marino in 2013.

Keller, who was just elected to his fourth term in the State House in 2016, represents Union and Snyder counties.  

“If Marino moves into the administration, I will be entering the race for the 10th district,” Keller confirmed to PoliticsPA.  

Mussare, a two term County Commissioner, also confirmed that he is weighing a bid.

“It would be an honor, but I would refrain from making any decision until I see what the Party wants,” Mussare told PoliticsPA.  

PoliticsPA is seeking comment from Scavello, Weber and Wheeland.

Dems for 10th
Clockwise from top-left: Smith, Carney, Brion, Troiano

Democrats face an uphill climb in PA-10, which went for President Trump over Hillary Clinton 66-to-30. Mitt Romney outdid President Obama 60-to-38; John McCain beat Obama 57-to-42; and President Bush took 63.5 to John Kerry’s 36.5 in the two-way vote share, according to DailyKos.

Republicans had the benefit of rumors that Marino would soon step aside. Democrats have had little time to prepare and the field is less clear, but several names stand out.

Chris Carney, a combat veteran of the U.S. Navy, represented PA-10 from 2006 to 2010 when he lost to Marino (and before redistricting). He has remained politically active and served as an active campaign surrogate for Clinton in 2016.

Former Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2014 and currently serves as Governor Tom Wolf’s Director of Government Affairs and Outreach.

Scott Brion, who founded a business in the oil and gas industry, challenged Marino in 2014 and won 25% of the vote. Independent candidate Nick Troiano took 12%. Marino defeated Mike Molesevich 70% to 30% in 2016.

PoliticsPA is seeking comment from Brion, Carney, Smith, and Troiano.

Pennsylvania’s special election process rewards well-networked candidates. Each party’s nominee is chosen by a conference of the county parties within the district. Precinct-level committee people who reside in the 10th district vote, and each state party compiles and certifies the results. Each state party has the seldom-used authority to overturn their choice.

PA-10 is a massive district without a natural center of gravity. It spans parts of 4 television markets and includes part or all of 15 counties: Bradford, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and Wayne.

Correction: PoliticsPA originally reported that developer Andrew Lewis was preparing a bid; he confirmed that he is not.

28 Responses

  1. Quite right, Jerry. Those in the know understand a fix is probably in the works on the Republican side, so who cares.

    And those in the know also realize that anything done on the Democrat side is the usual exercise in vanity designed to keep them a minority party.

    So it’s good to look at the fringe elements from time to time. Some of those people are positively interesting.

  2. I think it’s a hoot that it’s more comment-worthy to critique the LCP’s two dozen strong band of useless rowdies than to speculate who is going to come out on top of GOP Survivor. (Which everyone knows will be McLinko).

    Also, YES PLEASE, let’s NOT forget Scollo nor his endorsement of Independent Troiano in the 2014 race.

  3. Businessman and Democrat Phil Scollo got 34.1% against Marino in 2012 but was not mentioned in the article.

  4. In Williamsport it seems the local pseudo-vultures have begun to do their half-circles. The overwhelming might of central Pennsylvania’s leftist community–all two dozen or so of them–gathered last night (Wednesday) under the auspices of the Lycoming County Progressives to rant and rave against Marino and lament the common sense of Pennsylvanians in what the left still habitually calls “flyover country”.

    BTW, there is a hard core among the Lycoming County Progressives linked to Indivisible, the group funded by globalist billionaire George Soros, to further undermine Trump and his administration, and extend leftist influence to the grassroots level.

    In Central Pennsylvania the Democratic Party will take whatever help it can get, and any resources and organization that its left wing can provide will always be welcome. However, considering the need for a strong candidate and the rather slim credentials of local Democrats, the search may be a difficult one.

  5. After the Democratic candidate in the Kansas 4th special came within seven points in a similarly heavily Republican (R+15) district, this might actually be a more competitive race than previously thought. Granted, there are a lot of factors that do not cross over, but maybe Carney or another vet could come back and actually have a shot (however long) running on a platform of jobs/infrastructure, lowering the costs of health care/insurance, and fighting the opioid epidemic. In such a heavily gerrymandered district that is $20,000 below the Pennsylvania median income, a Democratic candidate would do well to focus on the bread and butter.

  6. There currently are four certified political parties that by law are entitled to nominate a candidate for a special election by filing a nomination certificate. The political parties include: Democratic; Republican; Green; and Libertarian.

  7. In a special election Political Parties and Minor Political Parties file nomination certificates, nominating
    candidates in accordance with party rules. Due to the results of 2016 elections the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania is a Minor Political Party in Pennsylvania and has the same ballot access for this special election that the Democratic and Republican Parties do.

  8. @John Galt. Remember, it’s not what’s on the head, but what’s inside that counts.

  9. CentPADem- Lycoming County also received Act 13 money and raised taxes.

  10. 10th District Conservative – now you know McLinko only accomplished what he did because he fell in a big pile of dung called Act 13 and came out smelling like a rose. He would be so out of his league in DC, the swamp would drown him.

  11. I remain amazed that these members of Congress leave a safe seat with 2 years guaranteed for a gig at Trump’s administration that might not last the year.

  12. 3rd party or indy candidates? Fuhgeddaboutit. Special election candidates are chosen by the Parties, hopefully with input from the locals. Bottom line is that there’s a pretty good chance the area will be receiving a ton of national media coverage, and I hope we’re smart enough to make the most of it.

  13. We do not need a candidate who is a climate denier, opposed to equal pay for women in the workplace, against LGBT rights, deny lunch programs for needy students, deny funding for after school programs, against public education, promote open carry everywhere, etc. In other words, no Republican should hold this office.

  14. Troiano, who is the only independent or 3rd party candidate to earn ballot access in the 10th in recent memory, is listed above in the article and they even reached out of him for comment.

  15. Did Molesevich do or say anything newsworthy? (Besides declining to endorse Clinton in a TV interview.)

  16. Geez weez. How about getting your facts straight? Marino was opposed in 2016 by Mike Molesevich, although you’d never have known it by the media coverage. Apparently that’s still a problem.

  17. Unopposed in 2016?

    Molesevich got almost 30%, at least four other major party PA challengers did worse than he did, gee wizzzz.

  18. Shame the GOP establishment snubbed Andrew Lewis in his State Senate race. A blind man could see that the kid is going places.

  19. Yeah, gerrymandering doesn’t win elections, candidates do. So why do parties spend so much time cracking and packing? Oh, because maybe it works.

  20. Of course in real life the district has been represented by Republicans save for four years since 1960. But there is a weird Democratic habit in 2017 of denouncing mostly imaginary issues about district boundaries instead of looking at candidates, campaigns, and messages. I assure you, Pennsylvania Republicans are deeply thankul.

  21. This district would do itself and the country well to put Chris Carney back in this seat. Unfortunately, the wack jobs in Harrisburg bastardized this district into a Republican district with the last redistricting.

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