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Congressional Waiting List

After redistricting created what appears to be nineteen mostly safe incumbent congressional districts, the only real action over the next decade (with some exceptions) will be when some of the Congressmen retire and spark competition for open seats.  

PoliticsPA has made a highly subjective guess what would happen when our current incumbents move on.   Some Congressmen may leave to run for statewide office, and others may just decide that there are other things they'd like to do with their lives.  For discussion purposes only, we came up with a short list of some potential candidates for Congress that may be waiting in the wings.

1

Bob Brady

First elected in a 1998 special election to replace Tom Foglietta, Brady is the consummate Philadelphia Democratic insiders.  Brady derives only part of his power from his Congressional office, and may seek to return exclusively to the inside game or run for Mayor, perhaps in 2007.  The seat is solidly Democratic, and whoever replaces Brady must have a solid grasp on the Party apparatus, unions, and minority coalitions. More likely, the next member of Congress from PA1 will be anointed by Brady.  The next primary won't be about money; it will be about uniting enough blocs of voters.  John Street's chances of running statewide are slim to none, and if he is interested, he could have a clear shot at the Democratic nomination should Brady retire.

Next in Line: Dwight Evans (D)

Waiting List:  Lynn Abraham (D), Jonathan Saidel (D), John Street (D)

2

Chaka Fattah

Representing Pennsylvania's Second Congressional District has its advantages- reelection is a given.  However, like his predecessors, Fattah may someday outgrow his position and look to the private or nonprofit sector for his next big challenge. 

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Jannie Blackwell (D), Frances Fattah (D), Blondell Reynolds Brown (D)

3

Phil English

First elected in 1994, this Erie County-based seat once held by Tom Ridge is solidly Republican.  English, only 46 years old, will be around for a long, long time.  While state Senator Jane Earll is on the short list today, English's successor might right now be only in high school.

Next in Line: Jane Earll (R)

Waiting List:  Rod Wilt (R), John Evans (R), Rich Schenker (R)

4

Melissa Hart

Hart was first elected in 2000 but is already a leader in the PAGOP.  In the next term and beyond, she may need to choose whether she want to pursue a leadership position in the House or if she will seek statewide office.  Should Hart pursue the gubernatorial or United States Senate nomination, this seat could be up for grabs as early as 2006 (but don't count on Senator Specter retiring), but more likely, not until 2010.  Keep an eye on state Representative Mike Turzai, his ambition and talent may only be matched by the current Fourth District Congresswoman.  Orie is probably next in line, but she may look at a statewide run for Attorney General some day.

Next in Line: Jane Orie (R)

Waiting List:  Ron Klink (D), Matt Mangino (D), Daryl Metcalf (R), Jan Rea (R), Mike Turzai (R)

5

John Peterson

Peterson represents an enormous swath of territory, and keeping tabs on everyone isn't easy.  And at 65, Peterson is still going strong with little or no opposition.  Keep an eye on Jake Corman, a rising GOP star in central PA.  Corman has it in his blood, and statewide or Federal office is in his future.  He lives at the edge of the district, bordering the 9th.  But we suspect that Bill Shuster may be serving in Congress long after Peterson retires.  Whoever replaces Peterson, he or she will need to hustle in the primary.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Jake Corman (R), Joe Scarnati (R)

6

Jim Gerlach

If Jim Gerlach handles his first term smartly, he could hold on to the Sixth Congressional District seat until at least 2010, when redistricting could reshape his future.  But the Sixth was created with Gerlach in mind, and it will take some time before anyone decides who the next in line is.  Keep an eye on Dan Wofford.  If (1) Wofford stays relevant, (2) the seat opens up, and (3) the GOP nominates a weak opponent, then the seat could be competitive.  More likely: Gerlach runs unopposed.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Ken Davis (R), John Rafferty (R), Connie Williams (D), Dan Wofford (D)

7

Curt Weldon

Weldon became the senior Republican in the congressional delegation with the loss of Congressman Gekas this Fall.  Now serving his eighth term, Weldon is one of the House's most outspoken leaders on foreign affairs and defense policy.  While rumors abound about Weldon's interest in running for Governor, he is more likely to leave office for a post in a future administration.  But don't expect it anytime soon, Weldon remains as ambitious and energetic as ever, with a solid lock on his party and with little or no Democratic opposition.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  wide open

8

Jim Greenwood

First elected in 1992, Jim Greenwood's term limit pledge will come back to haunt him in 2004 if he decides to seek re-election.  But don't count him out; as Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Greenwood stepped up under the national spotlight, positioned himself well on many issues, and wields an increasing amount of clout on the Hill.  No decision yet on Greenwood's plans, but his refusal to take PAC money and other promises have left open the possibility to run again and not take too much heat for breaking his previous pledge. Greenwood also has a clear desire to run for the Senate should Specter retire. Next in line is Fitzpatrick, but he may opt for a private sector job.

Next in Line: Mike Fitzpatrick (R)

Waiting List:  Joe Conti (R), Tommy Tomlinson (R), Gene DiGirolomo (R), Joe DiGirolomo (R)

9

Bill Shuster

If Bill is anything like his dad (and he is), expect this Shuster to hang on to this Congressional seat for decades.

Next in Line:  wide open

Waiting List:  Jake Corman (R), Rick Geist (R), Adam Harris (R)

10

Don Sherwood

First elected in 1998 in a tough race against Pat Casey, Sherwood's seat is now safe.  Having lopped off Scranton with redistricting, Sherwood retirement is likely to be on his terms.  At 61 years old, he will not be there forever, however.  Keep an eye on Brett Feese and Tina Picket and several others to keep their names in the paper as they wait for Sherwood to move on.

Next in Line:  Brett Feese (R)

Waiting List:  Chuck Erdman (R), Nick Havens (R), Tom Marino (R), Tina Pickett (R), Bob Belfanti (D)

11

Paul Kanjorski

Kanjorski's solid victory against a well-funded popular mayor in a good Republican year shows he will be a tough incumbent to take out.  However, Tim Murphy and Melissa Hart have demonstrated that a Republican can win a district with over 50% Democratic registration and an open seat in the Eleventh District will be highly competitive.

Next in Line: Lou Barletta (R)

Waiting List:  Pat Casey (D), Bob Cordaro (R)

12

Jack Murtha

First elected in 1974, Murtha is a survivor.  He's made it through ABSCAM, redistricting, and remains an effective and respected member of the delegation.  But he is 71, and there is talk about Murtha's heir apparent.  An open seat could be competitive.

Next in Line: John Wozniak (D)

Waiting List: Dave Reed (R), Mark Singel (D)

13

Joe Hoeffel

Joe Hoeffel will always have a tough fight for re-election, especially running in Montgomery County as an ally of John Street.  Hoeffel hasn't indicated any intentions to run statewide, so the best chance for turnover in the Thirteenth is his losing to a Republican in a general election.  But with Montgomery County turning increasing Democratic in Presidential elections, it could take a Republican landslide to knock off Hoeffel in a Presidential election year, or a divisive local issue in a mid-term election.  The powers that be likely won't let Fox back into the game, but a Brown-Hoeffel rematch could happen.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Bob Borski (D), Melissa Brown (R), Jon Fox (R), Stewart Greenleaf (R), Kate Harper (R), Joe Martz (D),  Jim Matthews (R), Al Taubenberger (R)

14

Mike Doyle

Having survived redistricting and found a safe seat, Doyle will hold on to this seat for quite a while.  There are plenty of qualified and well-positioned successors, but the race to succeed him is wide open.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Jay Costa, Jr. (D), Jim Ferlo (D), Tom Murphy (D), Bob O'Connor (D), Bill Peduto (D), Jack Wagner (D), Cyril Wecht (D)

15

Pat Toomey

Regardless of what happens, Toomey's term limit pledge will make for an interesting race in the Fifteenth Congressional District in 2004.  Should Toomey honor his pledge and retire or seek another office, the race for this open seat could be competitive.  More possible: the White House (Karl Rove)  asks him to break his term limit pledge to help maintain GOP control of Congress.

Next in Line:   Charlie Dent (R)

Waiting List:  Lisa Boscola (D), Ed O'Brien (D), Joe Pascuzzo (R), T.J. Rooney (D), Nick Sabatine (R)

16

Joe Pitts

The 16th Congressional district has been cut to favor Lancaster County.  Chester countian Joe Pitts can have the seat as long as he wants it, but when he's done, it most likely returns to Lancaster County.  Democrats need not apply.

Next in Line:  wide open

Waiting List:  Gib Armstrong (R), Chris Ross (R), Paul Thibault (R), Noah Wenger (R)

17

Tim Holden

With some serious GOP feuds in this Congressional district, look for a potentially explosive primary. Jeff Piccola is more interested in running for governor.  Mark McNaughton can self-fund but he'd have to give up his state House seat.  Dave Argall is now in House leadership. Chick Tulli and Ed Marisco each would have a free run. But look for Holden to hold on to this seat if he serves the new 17th with as much energy as when he ran in 2002.  Keep an eye out for the now-unknown conservative self-funder Frank Ryan who could steal the primary.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List: David Argall (R), Ed Marsico (R), Mark McNaughton (R), Chick Tulli (R), Jeff Piccola (R), Frank Ryan (R)

18

Tim Murphy

Despite a 20-point margin of victory in 2002, conventional wisdom is that PA18 could be far more competitive than PA6, the other newly created seat where Jim Gerlach was narrowly elected.  With a relatively inexpensive media market and enormous Democratic registration advantage, Murphy will have to work hard. Should he retire, the list of Congressional aspirants is long.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Vince Gastgeb (R), Jack Machek (D), Larry Maggi (D), John Maher (R), John Pippy (R), Tom Stevenson (R)

19

Todd Platts

With the York County GOP in its current state, Platts will have tight control over who becomes his successor.  But the young Congressman, first elected in 2000, does not plan to give up this safe seat anytime soon.  Look to high school class presidents and college Republicans to find his likely successor.

Next in Line: wide open

Waiting List:  Charlie Gerow (R), Al Masland (R), Mike Waugh (R)