Shuster tops challengers

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster of Hollidaysburg on Tuesday cleared a major hurdle in his quest for an eighth term by soundly defeating two other Republican conservatives who, like the congressman, focused on smaller government, less regulation and job growth through the private sector.

But the primary election was just one of two victories by Shuster on Election Day.

The other was the passage by the House of Representatives of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that, if signed by the president, will provide billions of dollars to improve the nation’s waterways and the ability to transport goods to market and help grow of the American economy, Shuster said.

The House vote kept Shuster in Washington throughout most of the day, although he was able to return to his Blair County home late in the day to cast his ballot at Frankstown Township’s 3rd Precinct.

The House vote for the water resources bill was 412-4, showing bipartisan support for the first major piece of legislation during Shuster’s tenure as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The bill is important, Shuster said, because it shows there can be bipartisan action to address the nation’s problems and the frustration that Americans feel with Washington.

He called the House vote “a big, big win.”

“It’s a bill about jobs,” he said.

His other win, while not so lopsided, was against two opponents in the Republican primary. Art Halvorson, a Bedford County businessman, did well in his home county and initially led the race as early results came in. Finishing third in the race was Travis Schooley, a project manager from Franklin County.

Unofficial results on the Pennsylvania Department of State website early this morning showed Shuster amassing 24,106 votes, to 15,761 for Halvorson and 5,802 for Schooley.

In the fall, Shuster will be facing Democrat Alanna Hartzok, who was unopposed on the primary ballot. Her unofficial vote total was 30,601.

Shuster was gracious in victory toward his Republican opponents.

He congratulated both Halvorson and Schooley and said he respected their efforts.

He and his campaign staff knew that it was going to be a difficult race, he said, because his opponents were running against Washington and the frustration at the Obama administration and people like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Surrounded by his family while standing in the E.G. “Bud” Shuster Ballroom at the Blair County Convention Center, Congressman Shuster said he was “appreciative of the people of the 9th District” for giving him the chance to go back to Washington and work toward lowering the nation’s debt and reviving the nation’s economy.

“I’m committed to go back to Washington to represent you,” he said to about 90 supporters, who cheered as he spoke.

They included people like David Woleslagle, a veteran who said he was there because of Shuster’s work on behalf of those who have served. He told a story about how, while working at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C., he saw Shuster appear one night unannounced to sit and talk to servicemen recovering from their wounds.

He said Shuster was a supporter of the “boots on the ground” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Michele Beener, who works in government relations with the Somerset Hospital, said Shuster helps recruit doctors to the rural hospital in this area of the state.

Amtran Executive Director Eric Wolf said Shuster has helped his agency in acquiring buses and other capital items.

Shuster replaced his father, Bud Shuster, in 2001. The 9th District now includes all of parts of 12 counties.

Shuster was asked why he decided to spend his day in Washington engineering a major piece of legislation through the House as opposed to campaigning.

“Because that’s my job,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.