Halvorson blames loss on funding

05/15/18 Mirror photo by Shen Tu Wan / Art Halvorson and his wife, Paula, watched the primary election results as they came in Tuesday evening at White Sulphur Springs Conference and Retreat Center in Manns Choice.

MANNS CHOICE — The third time was not a charm for Art Halvorson, the Republican repeat challenger.

“I’m disappointed by it, by the result and by the way it was won,” Halvorson said Tuesday evening at his primary viewing event at White Sulphur Springs Conference and Retreat Center. “I still have the same passion. It’s just that this wasn’t apparently the way I was going to be able to influence change.”

Halvorson received 10,175 votes, a little over 15 percent, finishing fourth among the eight candidates running for the 13th Congressional District seat.

John Joyce won the Republican primary with 14,627 votes, about 22 percent of the total votes.

State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. finished second after Joyce with 13,104 votes or about 19 percent. Stephen Bloom came in third with 12,208 votes or about 18 percent.

Halvorson was upset at Joyce’s campaign spending.

“When millions are used against you, you can’t recover,” he said. “You can’t refute a negative when that kind of money goes after you. It was a sad spectacle, and the people lost because there’s no way for me to counter the charges that were laid against me, the false charges.”

Halvorson and some of the event attendees also attributed the primary outcome Joyce’s connections to Rep. Bill Shuster and the number of Republican candidates with conservative views in the race.

Douglas Braendel, an attendee at Halvorson’s viewing party, said he was disappointed by the Republican primary results.

“I watched how much money went into bringing Art and John Eichelberger down,” Braendel said, commenting on negative ads he received in the mail about both candidates. “Not everybody knows him (Halvorson). When you have a big district like this, it’s hard to get to know who the people are. And people might’ve believed what those ads said.”

Lee Bryan, another attendee, said, “The people did not win in that John Joyce, while claiming to be an outsider, was the farthest thing from being an outsider among these candidates. The machine behind Shuster and all the millions went behind Joyce. In that sense, this election was purchased.”

Halvorson was seeking a congressional seat in a district that has many of the same voters as the former 9th District.

Shuster, who has been in Congress since 2001 after succeeding his father, Bud, announced his retirement in January, a move that encouraged other candidates to enter the race.

This was the third time Halvorson ran for Congress. He ran for the first time against Shuster and Travis Schooley in 2014.

Halvorson ran again as a Republican candidate against Shuster in 2016, but narrowly lost the primary to the incumbent. He received enough write-in votes to win the Democratic primary and accepted the party’s nomination to run in the general election that year.

Halvorson received about 37 percent of the votes or 107,985 votes, compared to Shuster’s 186,580 votes in the 2016 general election. He received about 34 percent of the votes in the 2014 primary, compared to Shuster’s 53 percent and Schooley’s 13 percent.

Halvorson’s wife, Paula, praised her husband’s courage.

“I’m extremely proud of Art,” she said. “He has run a good race and he did something that not many had the courage to do, which is take on an incumbent, and he did it with integrity. I think this time there were several good candidates, which made it really difficult for the voters to pick who the right person to vote for was.”

When asked if he would run for Congress again, Halvorson expressed uncertainty.

“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I think there are some other things for me to do. I gave this my best shot. The money is a big deal. And no money came my way. I don’t know what would change or if it would change in the future because that’s what necessary, obviously. This proves it’s still a money game — a big money game.”

Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.