6th District candidates report $1 million war chests






West Chester>>Two candidates for the 6th Congressional District, centered in Chester County, have campaign war chests that top $1 million in contributions — and the election date is more than one year in the future.

According to Federal Election Commission reports for the second quarter of 2017, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan of Devon raised $432,526 during period of April through June, while incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello took in $499,105 over the same period.

The fundraising gave the two candidates $1.28 million in cash on hand after expenses. By contrast, in 2016 Costello and his Democratic opponent, businessman Mike Parrish, spent only $362,469 between them.

Costello, of West Goshen, currently in his second term in Congress, raised the most of all Pennsylvania incumbent in the period. His $499,105 outpaced the two other congressmen who represent portions of the county, U.S. Reps. Pat Meehan, R-7th, of Chadds Ford, and Lloyd Smucker, R-16th, of Lancaster County. Meehan took in $428,999 and Smucker $180,975.


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Political analysts inside and outside of the state have declared that the 2018 run for Costello’s district seat will be among the most hotly contested in the nation, with one GOP official declaring it a “bellwether.” Although Costello won handily over Parrish in 2016, the district itself went for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump — even as Trump won across the state.

Costello has been targeted for defeat by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, the national abortion rights political organization.

Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, said that Costello’s fundraising shows an awareness of the challenge that he may face in 2018.

“There is no doubt that Costello has to be concerned,” Madonna said in an e-mail last week. “It’s not just the fundraising. Most of the national analysts do not consider this a safe seat — it could be very competitive. The district has been artfully gerrymandered, and (Costello) is a good campaigner, but Trump’s job performance, an unpredictable national environment, and the typical midterm election could spell real trouble for him.

In a column about the 2018 prospects, Madonna said that, “despite the fact we are only some eight months past the 2016 elections, the upcoming 2018, midterm elections are well underway, and said that the state’s role in its eventual outcome “may be pivotal,” with the Costello-Houlahan race among the most watched.

“Several GOP House seats are potentially at risk,” he wrote. “Some early assessments of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats identify four Republican seats as vulnerable to a

Democratic challenge. Lou Jacobson, a senior author for the Almanac of American Politics, has identified Ryan Costello (6th), Pat Meehan (7th), Brian Fitzpatrick (8th) and Lloyd Smucker (16th) as in danger. The first three in the list are suburban seats trending Democratic over the last decade. The fourth seat (Smucker) is still rural but its suburbs are growing.”

Costello’s fundraising combined both individual contributions — starting at the low end with $250 from a female retiree in Eagleville — and those from political action committees (PACs) — such as the $2,000 he received from the Genesis Healthcare PAC from Kennett Square. He received a total of $342,500 from PACs and $152,875 from individuals.

“Congressman Costello is grateful for the overwhelming support he is receiving all across the district,” said Vincent Galko, senior adviser to Costello. “His campaign will have the resources and grassroots organization needed to win next November.”

Houlahan, meanwhile, took in money mostly from individual contributors and only $49,035 from PACs — including $10,000 from the Plumbers Union Local in Philadelphia. She received a number of contributions from outside the district — from residents of California and Illinois, for example — and a total of $116626 in individual contributions funneled through ActBlue, the democratic on-line fundraiser.

“Costello’s fundraising this cycle has confirmed that he is a career politician who is beholden to special interests as an astounding 68 percent of his money this year has come from PACs and outside groups,” said Rahul Kale, Houlahan’s campaign manager. This is precisely why there is so much gridlock in Congress and why we need to elect more leaders with real world experience. Chrissy has spent her career in the real world — as a veteran, small businesswoman, and educator — and will bring this experience with her to Washington to serve the 6th district, not the special interests.”

Democrat Bob Dettore of Berwyn, who had previously indicated he would seek the party’s nomination next year, did not file any fundraising report with the FEC.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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