The announced retirement of U.S. Rep. Todd Platts is drawing many suitors in the upcoming 4th Congressional District election, a contest a Republican official said will continue the district's GOP stronghold.
"Let's get one thing straight. It's a strong Republican district. It will remain a strong Republican district," said county Republican chairman Bob Wilson.
The Democrats don't have anyone with enough name recognition to mount a serious challenge, Wilson said, and there's already strong interest by a handful of Republicans.
Republican York County commissioners Steve Chronister and Chris Reilly both said they're considering a run, as are state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg and Republican Mike Smeltzer, who heads the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania and ran against Platts in the 2010 primary. Ted Waga, a member of the York 912 Patriots, has already announced plans to seek the seat.
Chronister said he's happy being president commissioner, but he's considering Congress because it would give him a chance to make national change on issues important to York County, such as crime and education.
He said he appreciated Platts' "level-headed" and honest approach to the job, and he would hope to carry on that tradition.
"If I run, I'm going to tell them I don't have all the answers," he said.
He'll decide by the end of the week, he said, as potential candidates don't have much time to make a decision.
Tuesday is the first day to circulate and file nomination petitions.
Reilly said he's "strongly considering" candidacy, and he'll also decide in a few days. Both men, who have worked closely as commissioners, said they welcome the challenge from a colleague.
"These opportunities come very rarely, so...the more the merrier," Reilly said.
Perry also said he's "seriously considering" a run and is talking with his family about the decision, which should be made soon.
This year's election will mark the first time since 2000 an incumbent hasn't been running for the seat, which has been renamed the 4th District because of redistricting and covers parts of Adams, York, Cumberland and Dauphin counties.
"Turnover is a good thing," said Platts, a Springettsbury Township resident.
Platts said Tuesday he will not seek re-election because he will have served 12 years by the end of his current term and has supported term limits. The decision, he said, was not affected by the district's picking up the heavily Democratic city of Harrisburg.
Candidates emerge: Waga of the York 912 Patriots announced months ago that he would seeking the Republican nomination, expecting to run against Platts.
His group has been critical of Platts in recent months and had called for him to step down. At one community gathering last fall, the group challenged Platts on his stance on the cap and trade issue and his support of the federal government's regulation of the private sector, including the tobacco industry.
Mike Smeltzer, who ran
Platts said his decision was simply because of his self-imposed term limit and a desire to spend more time with his family, and not because of any political pressure.
Waga said he thinks the incumbent Republican dropping out should help his cause.
"Trying to beat an incumbent is like climbing Mount Everest. We're not having to climb Mount Everest anymore," Waga said.
Wilson said he expects other Republican candidates to surface very soon. He did not identify any other potential candidates.
"We're running up against the clock here," he said.
Perry said he'd consider running because he wants to pull back federal spending and decrease the national debt.
"I don't think nearly enough has been done," Perry said.
Hope rising? Democrats and Libertarians are hoping the change offers them an opportunity.
Bob Kefauver, chairman of the county Democratic party, said a candidate from Dallastown will be announcing his intention to run for the seat on Saturday.
Another person has indicated interest as well, he said, although it's too early to reveal the name.
"This does open up possibilities for us. This will change the dynamics of the race," he said.
Red Lion Democrat Ryan Sanders, who ran against Platts in 2010, said he's "exploring options" for another run this year.
"I hope whoever runs as a Republican will be half as honorable as Mr. Platts," Sanders said Wednesday.
Mike Koffenberger, a Libertarian who previously announced he was running, said Platts' announcement "will make the primary season very interesting."
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