Summers
Summers

An attorney who represented Yorker Albert Snyder in his high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case has announced his candidacy for the 4th Congressional District, becoming at least the fourth Republican who wants the seat when Rep. Todd Platts retires.

Sean Summers, a 42-year-old partner with York's Barley Snyder Attorneys at Law, announced his candidacy Monday afternoon at his downtown law office.

Summers has practiced with the firm since 2004, litigating in areas such as business and commercial suits and civil rights.

He's best known for the Snyder suit, in which he represented a Spring Garden Township father who argued that free speech should not have covered the Westboro Baptist Church members who protested at his son's funeral. Last year, the court ruled the protestors were within their constitutional rights when they picketed at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, claiming U.S. soldiers die to pay for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

New to politics: While he has made a name in the courtroom, Summers he's hoping voters will look favorably on his lack of political experience.

"It's a mixed blessing," the Manchester Township resident said Monday. "I've never been a politician, so I'm not standing in line thinking I'm entitled to it. On the down side...I don't know the people to ask for money. All of the insiders have the upper hand."

Platts said he's retiring to spend more time with his family and to uphold his view on a 12-year term limit. Summers said he would serve only 12 years.

"I have no problem saying that today with no hesitation," he said. "I've no desire to spend 30, 40 years in Congress. When (Platts) came out and said he was going to abide by his self-imposed term limits, my stock in him went through the roof."

Summers said finances would be his biggest priority, as job creation and the overall health of the economy depend on the government slowing its rate of spending.

"If you had those personal spending habits, the bank would probably cut you off in two months," he said.

He's not in favor of raising the debt ceiling, and he'd be willing to "make the tough choices that will eventually have to be made."

"In my opinion, we don't need a federal Department of Education," he said.

He said local school boards make spending decisions and the state's Department of Education oversees the local boards. The third tier is unnecessary, and he would downsize or eliminate it, he said.

Flat tax: Summers said he's also in favor of a flat tax, which he believes would generate more income.

"The lower tier pays little tax. A large chunk in the middle pay excessive tax and the very, very wealthy...pay minimal tax because we have a lot of lobbyists in Congress to get favoritism," he said.

He thinks the tax code should be streamlined and loopholes eliminated.

A former prosecutor with the U. S. Army JAG Corps, Summers said veterans causes are also important to him.

For example, he would support a system under which vets could have more healthcare options, "instead of being forced into the VA health system."

Summers said he would be a very vocal representative, using his public speaking skills to set himself apart from the crowd in Washington.

"Going to Congress and debating, I'm sure that's a tough task," he said. "But try debating the First Amendment with Justice (Antonin) Scalia. It's certainly no small feat."

Growing slate: Summers' competition on the Republican ballot will include County Commissioner Chris Reilly, State Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, and Ted Waga, a Republican and member of the York 912 Patriots. President Commissioner Steve Chronister has also said he's considering a run.

Democrats Harry Perkinson of York Township and attorney Ken Lee of Harrisburg have declared their candidacies, as has Hopewell Township Libertarian Mike Koffenberger.

Also considering runs are Republican Mike Smeltzer, who heads the Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania and ran against Platts in the 2010 primary, and Red Lion Democrat Ryan Sanders, who ran against Platts in 2010.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com, or follow her on Twitter at @YDYorkCounty.