PA17: Vodvarka Ends Congressional Bid Ensuring Parnell vs Lamb Matchup

The race is now set for the 17th Congressional District. 

Jesse Vodvarka, a family business owner who also previously served as a campaign manager to his father, Joe’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign, ended his campaign for Congress on Tuesday. 

The Beaver County Times reports that Vodvarka ended his GOP bid for the seat after a legal challenge was made to his nominating petitions. He told the Times that “by his calculations” the challenge to his petitions, which was scheduled for a hearing on Thursday in the Commonwealth Court in Pittsburgh, would have left him “about six signatures shy” of the amount needed to get on the primary ballot, calling it a “heartbreak.”

Vodvarka’s exit from the race ensures the race in November is set between Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) and Republican Sean Parnell, a combat veteran and conservative author. 

While Parnell is now the lone Republican in the race, three candidates previously announced that they were vying for the GOP nomination over the past year. 

Scott Timko, a former Air Force pilot and small business owner, who was the first to formally announce his entrance into the race against Lamb in August 2019, decided to instead launch a primary challenge to state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) for the 12th state House District. Brian Thomsen, a former Green Beret, MBA and business consultant, who announced he was seeking the GOP nod in October 2019 did not file nominating petitions for the seat. 

In December, when three Republicans had already declared their intentions for the 17th District, President Donald Trump offered his support for Parnell’s campaign

Lamb is currently serving his first full term in Congress, but was first elected in March 2018 by narrowly winning a special election in the Trump friendly old 18th District. Lamb bested Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Allegheny) for the newly drawn 17th District by 13 points in boundaries that narrowly supported Trump in 2016

Lamb is one of three Democrats being targeted by the NRCC for 2020 in Pennsylvania.

4 Responses

  1. What were the reasons the petition signatures were voided? Malfeasance to get proper signatures does not bode well for a political hopeful.

    1. If forgeries,in Allegheny county,the circulator and candidate usually get prosecuted under the PA. Crimes code instead of the Election law which simply invalidates the signatures… unless they are “dating” the District Attorney’s son.

    2. There are plenty of reasons a petition signature could be challenged that aren’t related to malfeasance. You could challenge a signature if the signer was not actually registered to vote or registered as belonging to another party, if it is obvious that the signer did not personally fill out the rest of the information on the line (e.g. different ink color or handwriting), or if the signer did not put down the residence that matches their registration.

      I’m not sure if they give people a hard time about abbreviations, but I remember hearing about signatures being challenged for putting “HBG” instead of “Harrisburg” or “PHL” instead of “Philadelphia”.

      You could throw out a whole petition if the circulator wasn’t qualified (e.g. different party as candidate, not registered, not registered in PA) or the heading was filled out improperly or if it wasn’t properly notarized.

  2. Sad when a “backup” opportunity is another political office. Aren’t these people employable anywhere else?

  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

    • Dan McCaffery (61%)
    • Carolyn Carluccio (37%)
    • Still undecided (2%)

    Total Voters: 344

    Loading ... Loading ...
Continue to Browser


To install tap and choose
Add to Home Screen