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mh 23jan01- shuster & son

January 23, 2001

Wait until May to decide on Shuster's replacement



Did U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster time his Jan. 4 resignation so that his son Bill would have the inside track to succeed him? It's "obvious" that's what's going on, says Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa. What's uncertain is whether voters will share such a perception, or just vote for a familiar name.

Shuster, who represents the 9th District in south-central and western Pennsylvania, announced his resignation Jan. 4, just a day after he was sworn in for his 15th term. The seat will be filled through a special election scheduled by the governor and the leaders of each party will choose the candidates who run.

Allen Twigg, Republican Party chairman for Franklin County, said that two months prior to the resignation, Shuster's office called him to ask for a copy of the county's bylaws. According to John Eichelberger, chairman of the Blair County GOP, the bylaws state how a congressional seat will be filled in the event of a mid-term resignation by a Congressman.

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The timing of that request suggests that Shuster had been planning to transfer power to his son for some time. The Shuster name might have carried the day even in a conventional campaign, but because state law says Gov. Tom Ridge can schedule a special election with only a 60-day wait between the governor's announcement and the vote, the shorter campaign would give the younger Shuster an even greater advantage.

However, state law also gives Ridge the option of waiting until May 15, when the next statewide election is scheduled. Waiting would leave the district without a representative for several months, but it would also ensure that the candidates have at least an extra month to tout their qualifications for the job,

We favor waiting until May. Young Shuster is a car dealer and while he may have other attributes that qualify him for the Congressional seat, we'd like voters to have as much time as possible to consider his resume and those of all the others who run.

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