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9th District Democrats choose Conklin

January 25, 2001

9th District Democrats choose Conklin



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Democratic parties in the 9th Congressional District have picked a Centre County man as their candidate to run for the seat U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster will vacate next week.

The committees chose Scott Conklin, a Centre County commissioner who has twice run for the state legislature and lost by a narrow margin.

The selection will not be official until the state Democratic Committee approves it, probably next month, said Shannon Bilger, chairman of the Mifflin County Democratic Committee.

Shuster, a 14-term Republican, announced earlier this month he would retire Jan. 31. The 9th district includes all or part of 11 counties, including Franklin and Fulton.

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The Democratic parties of 10 of the 11 counties met Wednesday night in Huntingdon County to choose a nominee from five potential candidates.

"They were five terrific candidates. Since 1972, there haven't been this many good Democrats running for Congress," Bilger said. "They are five people I would have been proud to have as candidate and stood a good chance."

The other candidates included Stacey Brumbaugh, a law professor at Penn State University and communications director for former first lady Hillary Clinton, Stephen Wiedemer, an environmental planner from Blair County, Mark Stevenson, a financial planner from Centre County and Dr. Jack Shocker, a Blair County oncologist.

William Butts, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Committee, said the county favored Brumbaugh.

"She has exposure to the Washington cartel and I think she would have received campaign funding from Washington," he said.

But he said the committee will work on getting Conklin's name out in Franklin County.

"He has no recognition down here. We will have to work on that," Butts said. "It's the job of each county now to rally behind him and send another Democrat to Washington."

So far, Republicans have a field of more than a dozen candidates including Shuster's son, Bill, and Rep. Patrick Fleagle, R-Waynesboro.

The GOP will hold a convention to choose their nominee, but so far no date has been set.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania has also announced its candidate, Alanna Hartzok, coordinator of the Pennsylvania Fair Tax Coalition.

Hartzok, who was designated Jan. 14 by the party's Coordinating Committee as its choice to replace Shuster, will speak to the press and public Monday at 3:45 p.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse. At that time, she will formally change her voter registration from Republican to Green.

Gov. Tom Ridge will announce the date for a special election to fill the seat in early February. He will likely postpone filling the seat until the next scheduled statewide election May 15.

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