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Coy won't bid for Shuster's seat

January 23, 2001

Coy won't bid for Shuster's seat

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - State Rep. Jeff Coy will not be among the candidates the Democratic committees in the 9th Congressional District will choose from tonight when they pick their nominee to replace U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster.

Coy, D-Shippensburg, announced this week he would not seek the Democratic nomination for the seat, citing his current leadership roles in the state General Assembly and the impact on his family as his reasons in a statement.

Speculation that Coy would run surfaced immediately after Shuster, a Republican, announced earlier this month that he would retire Jan. 31.

Coy, a conservative Democrat, has held onto his seat in the largely Republican district since the early 1980s.

His decision leaves Scott Conklin, a Centre County commissioner, and Stacey Brumbaugh, a Blair County resident, as the front-runners for the Democratic nominee, said William Butts, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Committee.

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The Democratic committees from each of the 11 counties in the 9th District will meet tonight at the Huntingdon County Courthouse to choose a candidate.

The district includes all or part of 11 counties, including Franklin and Fulton.

The Democratic nominee will face a Republican challenger in a special election this spring. Gov. Tom Ridge has not announced the date, but it is likely to be held with the statewide primary on May 15.

"I think the strongest candidate now is Scott Conklin," Butts said. "He's not new to politics, and he knows how to campaign and raise money. All he needs now is to know how to win."

Conklin has twice run for the state General Assembly in the highly Republican area in 1996 and 1998, both times winning nearly half the vote and suffering extremely narrow losses.

Brumbaugh is a law professor at Penn State University and has served as communications director for first lady Hillary Clinton, now a Democratic U.S. senator from New York.

"Stacey would have hands-on experience as far as being with Hillary, something you couldn't overlook. Her credentials are very impressive," Butts said.

Other names that have been mentioned as potential candidates include state Rep. Bud George, D-Clearfield County; and Greg Morris, a businessman from Blair County.

Butts was disappointed with Coy's decision, but said, "It was his decision and we have to go from there and pick the best candidate to carry the 9th District."

Coy cited his seniority and leadership role in the House of Representatives, where he is the fourth-ranking leader in the Minority Caucus, as central factors in his decision not to run.

He was re-elected to his 10th term representing the 89th district with 65 percent of the vote in November.

"I reached the conclusion that I can best serve the people of Franklin and Cumberland counties by continuing to represent them in the legislature," Coy said. "Cumberland Valley residents have placed a tremendous trust in me, and I intend to continue working to represent their interest to the best of my ability."

Coy is also a member of the State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors, a position that gives him a voice in the oversight of state universities.

"I am in a position of leadership and feel strongly that I can make a positive difference in people's live by staying and fighting right here in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I would be giving up all of that as a potential freshman congressman," he said.

Coy said he plans to continue to work toward property tax relief, expanded prescription drug assistance and better roads.

He said a candidacy would disrupt his family and detract from his community activities.

Butts expressed hope one of the other Democratic candidates could win the seat.

"It's been a Republican seat too long. It's time for a breath of fresh air," he said.

Republicans still have not picked a candidate, but under consideration are state Rep. Patrick Fleagle, R-Waynesboro, and Shuster's son, Bill.

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