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Teacher to face Shuster in November

May 25, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - No Democratic candidate for the Ninth District congressional seat appeared on the May 16 primary ballot, but it looks as though incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster will have a challenger in the Nov. 7 general election, according to unofficial election results.

Tony Barr, a teacher from Greenfield Township in Blair County, polled at least 837 write-in votes in Franklin County, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections. That was nearly half the 1,776 write-in votes Barr received in a partial count of some other parts of the district, which includes all or part of 15 counties, according to a Wednesday press release from his campaign.

Barr needed 1,000 write-in votes to qualify to be on the November ballot, the release stated.

"I'm thrilled we were able to put together this effort in just 16 days," said Beth Shupp-George, first vice chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party. Party activists in another county had put out the call asking someone to run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination so that Shuster would not be unopposed, she said.

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"Tony Barr stepped up and said he'd be willing to do it," she said.

Shupp-George said about 50 people worked the polls for Barr on primary day, handing out cards for the candidate that instructed people how to properly cast a write-in vote, which in Franklin County includes filling in the oval next to the space for a candidate in order for it to be recorded by precinct counters.

"It really illustrates that the Democratic Party is vital, active and growing in Franklin County," Shupp-George said of the effort to get Barr on the ballot.

Shuster collected 54,468 votes district-wide in his unopposed bid for the GOP nomination, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State's unofficial primary results. That includes 8,629 votes in Franklin County, according to county election results.

Shuster did not run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination, spokesman Tory Mazzola said. In Franklin County, Shuster had 38 write-in votes, according to the unofficial results.

There were a few extra votes under various versions or misspellings of Barr's and Shuster's names, according to the county tally sheets of write-in votes.

"The congressman is taking any candidate seriously," Mazzola said. "We really don't know a whole lot about him," he said of Barr.

"I think that's a safe presumption" that Barr will qualify to be on the ballot in November, Mazzola said. Shuster will run on "the same principles upon which he was first elected," including cutting taxes, national defense, creating jobs and family values, Mazzola said.

"I think those issues resonate well with people across the Ninth District," he said.

Barr's Web site listed issues including repealing "irresponsible tax cuts," universal health care, ending the war in Iraq and protecting "choice for women and privacy rights for all citizens."

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