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DelGrosso says Franklin County could provide votes in primary

June 03, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Their paths did not cross, but U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster and the man who will try to unseat him in next year's primary were both in Chambersburg Monday.

Shuster, R-9th, announced an appropriation for a sewer project in Hamilton Township and visited U.L. Gordy Elementary School. Later in the day, Michael DelGrosso and about 70 supporters gathered in front of the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse on a stop for his campaign kick-off tour.

"I heard he was in town," DelGrosso said after his speech.

"Many of the 14 counties in the 9th District remain at unemployment levels far worse than the national average," DelGrosso said in his speech.

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"We continue to see our high school and college graduates leave the area" to find better jobs elsewhere, he said.

"Franklin County is not doing nearly as bad as the other counties in the district," DelGrosso said after his speech. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reported today that its unemployment rate was the 11th lowest among the state's 67 counties.

DelGrosso said, however, he believes Franklin County could provide him with substantial support in the April 27, 2004, primary.

"It is the only county where Bill Shuster received less than half the vote in the primary last May," the business consultant said, referring to the 2002 GOP primary. According to county election figures, Shuster got 48.5 percent of the vote running against two opponents in his bid to be nominated for re-election.

"Bill Shuster raised more than $1 million in the last election to defeat three candidates in the primary and general election," the U.S. Naval Academy graduate said. Those three candidates raised about $19,000, he said.

Despite what he expects will be a substantial difference in the size of their war chests, DelGrosso said he will be doing a lot of leg work over the next 11 months.

"Although he'll have enough money to do whatever he wants, the place I'll be is on people's front porches and town halls" discussing issues, the candidate said.

"I think the honest, hardworking people of this district need a voice, not just the special interests," DelGrosso said.

DelGrosso criticized congressional Republicans in general for failing to line up behind President Bush on a health care reform plan he said would have given Americans access to a health insurance program similar to that now offered to federal employees. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and other Democratic leaders "demagogued" the plan and "as a group, the Republicans became rather silent."

"We need somebody who is actually going to fight hard and provide leadership ... to put an end to this slide in Medicare," he said.

Shuster won office in a special election in 2001 after his father, Bud Shuster, resigned his seat in Congress.

Many of those gathered on the square were supporters who rode a charter bus from Blair County where both Shuster and DelGrosso live.

"(DelGrosso) has strong, grassroots Republican values I can embrace," said Gary Discavage of Williamsburg, Pa. He said DelGrosso offers a choice and he is tired of elected officials who are "anointed, appointed and selected. It's about time we had one elected."

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