More hint at run for Shuster’s 9th seat

Three GOP candidates announce their campaigns; others still weighing options

A week after Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, announced his intention to leave the House of Representatives, a growing field of hopeful Republican successors has taken shape.

As of Monday, at least three GOP candidates had announced campaigns, while two possible names declined to run and several more openly weighed their options.

Within hours of Shuster’s announcement that he will not seek re-election this year, Manns Choice developer and three-time challenger Art Halvorson said he would run to replace him.

Since then, past 9th District candidate Travis Schooley and activist Benjamin Dayton Hornberger — who, at 23, is legally too young to take the seat — have announced their plans to run on the GOP ticket, as well.

At the same time, at least two potential candidates for Shuster’s seat have decided not to run.

Michael DelGrosso, the DelGrosso Foods executive who ran against Shuster in 2004, said now is not the time for a campaign, while state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin, said he wants to remain in Harrisburg.

The flurry of announcements leaves several more possible candidates — including Altoona physician John Joyce, state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, and state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Fayette — still to make their decisions. Candidates have until March 6 to file paperwork for the May primaries.

The candidates

In an announcement he sent to reporters Monday, Schooley — an engineer and business owner from Shippensburg — said he is prepared for a shot at Shuster’s seat.

Schooley ran in the GOP primaries for Shuster’s seat in 2012 and 2014, taking part in a three-way fight with Halvorson in 2014.

“I am the working man’s man, and I am eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work to serve the people of this district,” Schooley wrote in his new announcement, detailing his military experience, status on his county GOP committee and work in local government. “I’d say I’m politically courageous, straightforward and a no-nonsense guy who will fight for conservative principles.”

Rounding out the race with Schooley and Halvorson is Hornberger, a 23-year-old Shippensburg veteran who has been vocal in his support for President Donald Trump.

Hornberger, who appeared on national news after he accidentally shot himself in the leg during a 2017 rally at the Gettysburg battlefield, is too young to take the seat under the Constitution.

Hornberger told the Chambersburg Public Opinion he could still take his seat, despite the constitutional age limit of 25.

“It would come down to Article I Section 5 of the Constitution on whether Congress would seat me or not,” Hornberger told the newspaper. “That article and section gives Congress the authority to seat members-elect even if they don’t meet the age requirements.”

A 24-year-old was elected in the 1850s but was not permitted to take the oath of office until he turned 25, according to the House Office of the Historian.

Weighing their options

Several more candidates have placed their name in the conversation while not announcing their plans outright.

Eichelberger, who sought the seat in 2001 before he won election to the state Senate, said last week that he is seriously considering his options and will decide soon.

Stefano, a Republican state senator from the district’s western edge, has been named as a potential hopeful in reports but has not made a public statement detailing his plans.

One political newcomer suggested a likely run on Monday: Dr. John Joyce, an Altoona physician who operates Altoona Dermatology Associates with his wife, Dr. Alice Plummer Joyce, said he is seriously considering a shot at the seat.

“The time for my involvement in public service has arrived,” Joyce said in a written statement. “After more than 25 years serving as a physician to patients in over 12 counties in (the) central and southwestern Pennsylvania area, I am prepared to serve on a larger level as the representative from Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District.”

Joyce, who has not sought public office before, worked as a civilian in the Navy and has since held several medicine-related advisory roles and board seats in the Altoona area.

While he did not say he is certain to run, Joyce said he is “strongly considering” the option after supporters suggested he do so.

Ruled out

With observers and insiders speculating on potential runs, some possible candidates have made clear they are not seeking Shuster’s seat.

Alloway, a state senator from Franklin County, told the Public Opinion he still has work to do in the General Assembly.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement received this week, but the fact remains, there is simply too much work left to do in Harrisburg,” he said.

DelGrosso — who challenged Shuster in the 2004 primary and narrowly lost after a hard-fought race — was named as a serious contender, but confirmed Sunday he is not seeking the seat.

“After deep contemplation over the past week, I have decided I will not be a candidate for Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District in the coming election,” said DelGrosso, vice president for global sales and marketing at his family’s Tipton-based company. “My upbringing and my faith have taught me that there is a time for everything, and I know in my heart that my time to help lead DelGrosso Foods into the next generation is not yet complete.”

The rapid shift in the district’s future — from an incumbent to several sudden challengers on the right — could pave the way for more announcements this week.

At least one Democrat, Fayette County psychologist Adam Sedlock, is already seeking his party’s nomination, and several weeks remain for other hopefuls to submit their names.

The primaries are scheduled for May 15 and the general election for Nov. 6.

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