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GOP lawmaker to retire rather than face fair election he'd probably lose

Now that the court had ordered fair elections in Pennsylvania, Rep. Ryan Costello is too afraid to run for re-election.

By Matthew Chapman - March 26, 2018
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Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello

House Republicans are facing a record number of retirements ahead of the midterm elections. Now, they have lost another incumbent: Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello.

Costello, who has served two terms in the House, said he would file to run for re-election last week. But over the weekend, he changed his mind, calling it “the most difficult decision” he has ever made.

“Whether it’s (President Trump’s rumored affair with porn start) Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” he said.

The main reason: Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District was redrawn after the state Supreme Court smacked down Republicans’ illegal gerrymandering scheme. Now that the state’s congressional maps allow for fair, competitive elections, Costello’s district — which encompasses some of the Philadelphia suburbs — comprises voters who backed Hillary Clinton by more than 10 points.

Previously, Costello raged against the court decision, even endorsing the insane plan to impeach the judges who authored it. But since the United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Pennsylvania Republicans, he has no leg to stand on.

Costello would have struggled to fend off a challenge from Democratic Air Force veteran and businesswoman Chrissy Houlahan. The seat was already considered a toss-up after the district was redrawn. Now that it is open, Republicans’ prospects of holding onto it are likely even worse.

Even before the old map was thrown out, Republicans were facing a sudden headwind in Pennsylvania, losing a special election in a district Trump won by 20 points. So it is clear to Costello and to the GOP at large that they should brace for a bloodbath in the state this year.

Faced with real odds he could lose, Costello would rather throw in the towel than actually try to defend his agenda to voters.


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