The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 7, 2012

Shuster keeps 9th district U.S. House seat

Kathy Mellott
kmellott@tribdem.com

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Mercersburg registered nurse who developed her own health-care plan and called for tariffs on imported goods, was unable to unseat the longtime incumbent in the 9th Congressional District.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, was able to breeze to victory Tuesday, outpacing political newcomer and Democrat Karen Ramsburg.

Shuster, 51, of Hollidaysburg, was handed his sixth term with an incomplete vote count of more than 95,000, or 61 percent, while Ramsburg captured  just fewer than 61,000 votes, or 39 percent of the 70 percent of the precincts reporting.

The  votes cast for write-in candidate Paul Ritchey, 75, a retired telephone technician from Berlin, will not be known until the official courts are done in each of the 12 counties making up the 9th district.

Shuster likely will take over as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, bringing increased clout to the district, which covers all or part of a dozen counties from Franklin County to the east and Greene County to the west.

The 9th also includes the northern part of Cambria County, a portion of Somerset and all of Bedford County, where Shuster fared relatively well. But Fayette came out in strong support for Ramsburg, a reflection, Shuster said, of the 3 to 1 Democratic voter registration advantage.

Shuster owned a car dealership prior to taking over the vacancy created when his father, longtime Rep. Bud Shuster, stepped down.

Bill Shuster said late Tuesday he is pleased Republicans maintained control of the House.

But with a projected Democratic Senate majority, it will take some serious work across party lines to keep the nation from a series of mandatory spending cuts that some call a “financial cliff” on Jan. 2.

Ramsburg, 50, of Franklin County, ran her cash-strapped campaign while working 12-hour shifts at a central Pennsylvania hospital. She congratulated Shuster on his victory, saying he ran a gracious and honest campaign.

“We ask Mr. Shuster to keep our country safe, to keep us out of foreign conflicts that have nothing to do with out national interest and to extricate us from senseless trade deals,” she said in a statement.

While Shuster and Ramsburg are both pro-life, their positions are sharply different on many other issues, including term limits for Congress and other elected positions.

Ramsburg is a strong advocate for limited terms, while Shuster maintains experience and clout at the federal level is the best way to benefit the district.