Shuster fends off Barr's challenge

November 05, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For the second time in two years U.S. Representative Bill Shuster appeared to have beaten back a challenge from Democrat nominee Tony Barr in his bid for re-election to the ninth District seat in the House of Representatives.

Shuster's margin of victory appears to be at least equal to that of his 2006 race against Barr, but he will be returning to a House that he said will have about 20 fewer Republican seats. In the Senate, he said, the Democrats could have 57 seats, nearly the 60 needed for a filibuster-proof majority.

"The Democrats will have a huge margin as well as the White House, so it's going to be a huge struggle" for Republicans to attempt to restrain spending in some areas, while cutting the defense budget.

"I have great concerns about what his issues are," Shuster said of president-elect Barack Obama. He called Obama's policies "socialistic" and said income tax increases will not be limited to those making more than $250,000 a year.


"It will trickle down," Shuster said, perhaps to as low as households with incomes of $100,000.

"I can't pinpoint one thing," Shuster said of the losses the GOP has sustained in the House and Senate and, now, the White House. "I think there are an array of things. I think the American people are fatigued with the war," said Shuster, who consistently supported Bush policies in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The economy was the other major factor in the national results on Tuesday, he said.

"As Republicans, we've got a lot to do to rebuild our party and get out our message," he said.

At 11:30 p.m. Shuster was leading Barr 93,935 to 58,048, according to incomplete and unofficial results from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Barr, 39, of Claysburg, Pa., is a special education teacher at Everett High School and was is his second bid to unseat Shuster, 47, who was seeking his fifth term. In 2006 the Democrats had no name on the ballot for the primary and Barr won the nomination by write-in votes.

Shuster, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., won the seat in 2006 with 60 percent of the vote. Shuster was first elected in a special election in 2001 following the retirement earlier that year of his father, longtime U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster.

This year Barr was on the Democratic primary ballot and unopposed in his run for the nomination. Shuster also was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Despite a big advantage in the number of registered Republicans in the district, Barr totaled slightly more votes in his primary than Shuster did in his, 58,522 to 57,890. Democratic turnout was high in the primary due to the contest for the presidential nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton not having yet been decided.

The Ninth Congressional District takes in all or part of 15 counties in South Central Pennsylvania and has a population of about 650,000 people, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

The biggest challenge Shuster has faced politically came not from a Democrat, but from another Republican. In 2004 he narrowly defeated Michael Delgrosso in the GOP primary.

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