The petitions have been filed, and now we have a clearer picture of the big races on the ballot this year in Pennsylvania. Some gun control backers have indicated that they just need to make it past the elections before they try pushing their bills at the federal level again, so the issue is not going away any time soon.
At the federal level, all 18 Congressional seats are up in 2014, but no Senate spots will be on the ballot. The races that should stand out for gun owners include most of Southeast Pennsylvania, and a handful in other parts of the state.
Perhaps one of the most watched seats in the country will be PA-6, a district that includes Chester, Montgomery, Berks, and Lebanon Counties. The seat is currently held by Rep. Jim Gerlach, an A rated incumbent who is retiring at the end of this term. Republican Ryan Costello, currently the Chairman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, isn’t facing any GOP challenge on the primary ballot. Dueling for the Democratic nomination are first time candidate Mike Parrish and Manan Trivedi, a three-time candidate who has repeatedly refused to answer policy questions from NRA members.
UPDATE: Word has now come that Democrat Mike Parrish has dropped out after filing his petitions.
In PA-7 (portions of Berks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, and Montgomery Counties), Democrats are lining up behind university professor Mary Ellen Balchunis to take on pro-Second Amendment Rep. Pat Meehan. In an interview with the local paper, and previous tweets supporting White House gun control efforts, Balchunis indicates that she will make passing federal gun control a top priority should she win.
I support common-sense steps to reduce gun violence. #NowIsTheTime to act. Share this if you agree: http://t.co/CjyJv0RbvU
— Mary Ellen Balchunis (@poliscidoc) April 17, 2013
While the district probably won’t be terribly competitive for an anti-gun Democrat who worked with NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg to bring more gun control to Pennsylvania as member of MAIG, former Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson is a late entry into the PA-4 race against A+ rated Rep. Scott Perry. Under Mayor Thompson’s leadership, Harrisburg earned the distinction of being the first ever city charged with securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission over issuing misleading financial information released by the city’s administration. This election race will impact gun owners in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, and York Counties.
For gun owners in PA-8 (Bucks and Montgomery Counties), previously A rated Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is facing two Democratic opponents. Neither Kevin Strouse nor Shaughnessy Naughton has a background in politics with any kind of voting record on Second Amendment issues. Both have indicated support for President Obama’s previous gun control agenda in interviews, and Ms. Naughton says she plans to push a mandate for “gun liability insurance,” typically a bill that requires gun owners carry insurance policies that don’t even exist in order to continue exercising their fundamental rights. (NRA-ILA most recently addressed the many problems in this type of legislation in Washington, DC.)
On the opposite side of the state, PA-12, a previous battleground district in Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties, A rated Rep. Keith Rothfus is facing two Democratic challengers, John Hugya and Erin McClelland, a candidate who has publicly backed portions of the President’s gun control agendas in local media.
Just to the north in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties represented in PA-3, A rated Rep. Mike Kelly appears to have drawn two Democratic opponents, Dan LaVallee and Mel Marin who appear to have no voting records on the issue.
Across the state in PA-10, Democratic challenger Scott Brion is on the ballot against A rated Rep. Tom Marino in the district that includes Bradford, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and Wayne Counties. While A rated Rep. Lou Barletta is being challenged by Democrat Andy Ostrowski in neighboring district PA-11 that includes Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, and Wyoming Counties.
In less worrisome districts unlikely to see a serious challenge by gun control advocates, A rated incumbents Rep. Tim Murphy and Rep. Charlie Dent have no opponents at this time, A rated Rep. Joe Pitts currently has two Democratic opponents (including B rated former State Rep. Tom Houghton), A rated Rep. Bill Shuster has drawn two GOP challengers with one Democrat on the ticket, and A rated Rep. G.T. Thompson currently has two Democratic opponents.
Unfortunately, a handful of districts in Pennsylvania have a reputation and the political base to send gun control advocates to Congress without a serious challenge. Those include Philadelphia’s incumbents Rep. Bob Brady and Rep. Chaka Fattah, though each has drawn a GOP challenger. In a similarly safe anti-rights district out west, Pittsburgh’s Rep. Mike Doyle has a primary opponent. In PA-13 (Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties), the Democratic candidates are largely a who’s who of gun control advocates vying for the seat with F rated State Sen. Daylin Leach facing off against D+ rated State Rep. Brendan Boyle, former Rep. Marjorie Margolies who has a history of supporting semi-auto bans, and Val Arkoosh who has no voting record on the issue. There are two GOP candidates in this district, but neither is likely to pose a serious challenge to the Democratic primary winner. In PA-17, which used to support a former Second Amendment-supporting Democrat, there is no primary challenge to Democrat Rep. Matt Cartwright, though three GOP candidates are on the ballot.
In our next post, we’ll look at statewide races gun owners need to focus on for 2014.