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U.S. Rep Ryan Costello will not seek re-election to 6th District seat

03/27/2018 02:11PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

In a decision that will likely further tilt the balance of power in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. to the Democratic Party, Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello of the 6th District has announced that he will not seek re-election in November.

With his decision, Costello joins a long list of House Republicans who are leaving Congress, including 22 who have announced their retirement, and some others who are seeking other political pursuits or have resigned their position. Costello's decision represents the latest notch in the belt of a re-energized Democratic Party, both nationally and in Pennsylvania – who are seeking to supplant Republicans in both the House of Representatives and in Harrisburg.

While Costello and other Republican leaders in the state decide whether or not to keep Costello's name on the May primary ballot – he had until March 27 by 5 p.m. to decide – the news of Costello's dropping out of the race coincides with a whirlwind of controversy that has inherited by association since being elected to represent the 6th District in 2014.

Unlike many of his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives who have remained mostly silent, Costello has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, criticizing Trump for threatening to veto a Republican-sponsored omnibus spending bill, a bill he later reluctantly signed. But it wasn't just Costello's assessment of Trump's unpredictability and vacillations as a president. In his remarks to a local newspaper, Costello said that his decision not to run again stemmed in part from the endless controversy that has surrounded Trump since his 2016 election, that has been reflected in a thinning lack of popular support for Trump among Americans that has led many in state and national political circles to predict a “Blue Tsunami” trend of voters going Democratic in state and national elections this November.

Referring to Trump's latest snafu – news that his operatives paid off adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the wake of the 2016 presidential election to keep silent on Trump's alleged tryst with Daniels – Costello said that in the wake of this latest firestorm, combined with the difficult passage of the omnibus bill, “it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” he told the newspaper.

Over the first months of 2018, Costello was caught directly in the political cross hairs of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to redraw the state's congressional map for 2018. After it was reconfigured, the new map dramatically altered Costello's district and will now encompass all of Chester County, and widen north to include parts of Berks County and the City of Reading.

The redrawing of the district lines dramatically changed a map that had helped push state Republicans to a substantial 13-5 lead in the congressional delegation.

In response, Costello was highly critical of the move, saying that the Pa. State Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution. Costello joined several of his colleagues in the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation in a statement they issued soon after the Supreme Court ruling, calling it “a misguided decision” and “an unfortunate example of the judicial branch inserting itself into the core functions of the legislative branch.”

“Today’s Congressional maps were drafted and approved by both Republicans and Democrats,” the statement read. “It also comes on the eve of a midterm election. An orderly electoral process is an essential function of our Democracy.”

There has been speculation that a third factor may have contributed to Costello's decision not to seek a second term in Congress: The emergence of likely Democratic challenger Chrissy Houlahan, a Devon mother of two daughters and a U.S. Air Force veteran, whose platform engages hot-topic issues like affordable healthcare, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, environmental protection and women's health.

Houlahan was one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s initial “Red to Blue” candidates and has received numerous endorsements from Pa. Senator Bob Casey, the Chester County Democratic Committee, several union organizations and many elected officials in the region.

This January, Costello wrote on his Facebook page that he had witnessed two individuals enter his home property, take photographs of his home and intimidate his wife. He claimed that the two individuals were associated with Houlahan, who then countered back to Costello's accusations on her own Facebook page by writing “this incident had nothing to do with me.” The West Goshen Police Department later said that no crime had been committed.

Subsequently, constituents who posted comments on Costello's Facebook page that were critical of the congressman's accusations were blocked, and their comments were deleted, which prompted an investigation by the ACLU to determine whether the action was a violation of the First Amendment.

Last April, the ACLU went after Costello for choosing to forbid the recording of a public town hall meeting he attended, and for attempting to deny constituents from carrying cell phones into the meeting, in order to record or video the proceedings. The ACLU warned Costello that it “won’t stand for any attempt to impede on people’s rights or shroud the workings of government in secrecy, simply because a Congressman is afraid of democracy.”

Since arriving to Congress in January 2015, Costello has concentrated much of his political focus on returning control over education policy to parents and teachers; reducing taxes on Pennsylvania’s life sciences innovators; and seeking methods to stimulate health coverage to employees and families. He also re-established the House Land Conservation Caucus, and served on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where he introduced  H.R. 27, the Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act, which was the first bill to pass the House in the 115th  Congress.  Last Congress, he introduced  H.R. 3936, the VET Act, to create a more veteran-friendly process for filing claims and receiving assistance. The VET Act passed the House unanimously on June 21, 2016. 

Earlier this month, Costello, who co-chairs the Congressional Multiple Sclerosis Caucus, received the U.S. Representative of the Year Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society for his work in Congress to support those living with MS and their families.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.









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