By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs
If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that public polls mean very little when it comes to the minds of voters. Despite 99% of polling showing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as the clear victor in the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump won in nearly every contested area, including the battleground of Pennsylvania. So as polls predict a Democratic landslide in 2018, it may be too early to tell. But one thing’s for sure: the Congressional landscape will look very different in 2019.
This week, the 18-member Congressional delegation lost one of its most senior members in Congressman Bill Shuster, who has served the 9th Congressional district since 2001. Shuster marks the fourth Congressman to announce his departure, joining Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11), and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18), who resigned amid a personal scandal late last year. By any account, losing more than 20% of the delegation will certainly reshape Pennsylvania’s representation. And Shuster, who had earned the coveted chairman position of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, now cedes the position of most senior Republican member to Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-5), who was elected in 2008.
Both Shuster and Dent have cited a frustration with Congress and the Washington gridlock over the past couple months, indicating a leading motivator in their decision to leave office. Murphy resigned after a personal scandal was uncovered late last year and Barletta, who was represented Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional district since 2010, is running to defeat Sen. Bob Casey.