PA-16: Pitts Out-Raises Challengers, Keeps Major COH Lead

Rep. Pitts
Rep. Pitts

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Chester), of PA’s 16th district, has proven he’s serious about keeping his seat with his latest campaign finance report numbers.

The two Democrats running in the primary, Raj Kittappa and Tom Houghton, both leave a little more to be desired.

Pitts raised the most by far in the first three months of 2014, coming in with $172,111.12. He spent $63,778.41 and has $420,206.30 cash on hand.

Kittappa only managed to bring in $7,253. In an eyebrow-raising move, he didn’t spend any money during the first quarter. His amount raised also acts as his amount of cash on hand. Houghton’s numbers were better, with $29,587 raised, $12,616 spent and $16,970 cash on hand.


Pitts proved his power as an incumbent in the receipt of contributions. He picked up a good deal of cash from medical groups. The American Health Care Association gave $5,000, the American Academy of Neurology’s BrainPAC donated $2,500, the American Osteopathic Information Association gave $3,500, and the American College of Cardiology PAC donated $5,000, among several others.

His expenses weren’t too out of the ordinary. Fundraising, tickets and catering make frequent appearances on the list. Pitts also donated to the Republican Committee of Chester, a generous $5,000. The Congressman is listed as having no debts after running for this seat every two years since 1996.


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, but it remains to be seen how that will affect him in the upcoming May primary against Houghton.

The stem cell researcher originally announced his intent to run in the Democratic primary for PA-16 back in March.


Similar to his Democratic opponent, Houghton’s contributions all came almost entirely from individuals. Many of his contributions are in the form of in-kind donations toward fundraising events.

Just over $8K of Houghton’s money spent went toward consulting, namely Joseph Bachman and Don Gabor. Other expenses listed on his report included fundraising, advertising and $226.41 in postage stamps.

Houghton announced his candidacy back in January with the support of

The Cook PVI rates the 16th district R+4, meaning the rightward leaning isn’t necessarily the strongest, but it will be difficult to topple a Republican incumbent. Pitts has been in office since 1997. He won the 2012 election by a considerable amount, getting 54.8% of the votes in comparison to Democratic opponent Aryanna Strader’s 39%. Two Independent candidates ran in the election as well, John Murphy (4.3%) and James Bednarski (1.8%).

7 Responses

  1. Responding to an earlier comment, Pitts’ filing shows only 24 individual donors (not 200) giving a total of $18,785. The vast majority of his funds (84%) came from PACs and special interests like the Koch Brothers ($4,500). It is clear that Mr. Pitts is beholden to his corporate benefactors and not his constituents.

  2. Observer,
    I’m not really sure what Lancaster County base you’re talking about for Kittappa: I don’t think he has been to any democratic events (fundraising or otherwise), his voting history is near non-existent, his petition to get on the ballot was very sparce with proper signatures, he has spent no money at all to get his name out there and, he only very recently got a campaign website running for residents to figure out what his platform actually was/is.

    I think his time right now would best be spent continuing his research. It’s a very important cause and I’m sure everyone who needs skin grafts and healthy organs would be grateful to not lose his talents.

  3. For those who care (meaning not the Houghton supporters commenting), Pitts reported more than 200 individual donors this quarter.

    As for Houghton, he says he is “too busy” to debate his Democratic opponent, so the question has to be asked: “What has Houghton been doing?” He sure hasn’t been fundraising. As it is, he has only about $9,000 more on hand than Kittappa. If Kittappa could capitalize on his Lancaster County base, he could win the Primary.

    Houghton won’t debate now…but I bet he’ll want a Pitts debate come Fall. Pitts’ answer will be: you wouldn’t, why should I? And he will be right.

    All this proves is the same thing as before: Houghton’s greatest strength is his ego. He won in 2008 only because of a spoiler candidate named Hershey. In 2010 he got trounced despite telling everyone who would hear it that he had it in the bag. Houghton’s campaign is over before it began.

  4. If you follow the money you will see that Congressmen Pitt’s is in the pocket of big business. They have bought and paid for him to pass laws that benefit them and not his constituents.

  5. Houghton could be a strong candidate, but needs to improve drastically and quickly if he’s going to beat Pitts.

  6. When it comes to money, this is very much a ‘David and Goliath’ first quarter result. But Pitts’ constituents might want to ask: Why all these health care-related lobbyists supporting him? My money is with the guy who is raising small donations from the people he will represent: Tom Houghton.

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