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Switching races for Meehan, Welch to run in 6th District

Republican businessman Steven Welch said Saturday that he will run for Congress in the 6th District, abandoning his campaign for the 7th District seat now being pursued by former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan.

Ever since Meehan made clear last month that he would be seeking the 7th District office instead of the governorship, GOP insiders had assumed Welch would, in one way or another, step aside for a candidate most Republicans consider more politically potent. In opting to run in the 6th District instead, Welch yielded to pressure from Republican leaders in Washington and Harrisburg, though his campaign sought to frame it as a response to “overwhelming outreach by grassroots and community leaders.”

“When I decided with my family to run for public office, I did so knowing the uphill battle I faced against an incumbent with over $4 million in his campaign account,” Welch said in a statement. “I am running for Congress because I believe that we need elected officials who have experience creating jobs, balancing a budget and meeting a bottom line. Having been raised in Chester County and building my businesses and creating good jobs here in the 6th District, I know the great potential these communities have to lead the charge in turning around our economy.”

Still, he did not deny that Meehan’s candidacy, which is expected to be formally announced Monday, had changed the political picture.

“Pat Meehan’s decision to seek the nomination in the 7th District provides our region twice the opportunity to elect leaders who will restore fiscal responsibility to Washington,” Welch said. “This campaign has never been about me, it has been about engaging new voters in this process and effectively communicating the need for fiscal responsibility and how we can create good jobs in the Delaware Valley.”

Welch’s decision effectively clears the primary field for Meehan in the 7th, and makes it more challenging for Democrats to hold the seat being vacated by Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7). It also sets up a more competitive Republican primary in the 6th. State Representative Curt Schroder (R-Chester) and Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello are also seeking the GOP nomination. But with many Republican leaders seeing Welch as the strongest candidate, it could also make it easier for Republicans to hold that seat, which is being vacated by incumbent Jim Gerlach.

One question left unanswered by Welch’s announcement is whether he will move. Welch lives in Phoenixville, and while most of the town is in the 6th, Welch lives in a sliver that falls within the boundaries of the 7th. While he does not legally have to move to the 6th to run there, his opponents would no doubt criticize a candidate from outside the district. The timing of the announcement, coming on a Saturday afternoon, could reflect a desire to draw only minimal attention to such a switch.

“The 6th District requires proven experience to recharge our economy and craft policies that lead to job-creation,” Welch said.  “I will work tirelessly to earn the respect of 6th District voters and ensure that Southeastern Pennsylvania and our country get back on track so that the American dream is within everyone’s reach.”

September 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments [45] | post a comment

  1. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    How the heck can he legally run without moving to the 6th district?

    He can’t even vote for himself at his own polling place.

    If elected to congress and he wanted to “complain to his congressman”, he’d have to talk to the 7th district winner.

    This makes NO sense.

  2. Dave

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Have you seen the 6th District?
    It’s like a donut:

    Welch lives essentially in the middle, hundreds of feet from the border. While detractors will try and attack him for this it’s only to distract from his formidable experience creating jobs and leading organizations.

    As a native of Downingtown welcome the addition to such an important race. We’re lucky to have him!

  3. John Gallagher

    Sep 12th, 2009

    I wanted Steve in this race. The guy has literally reached out to every volunteer or activist there is, including myself.

    His kids will be going to school in the 6th, his business was in the 6th, and you can hit a golf ball to this 6th from his back yard.

    We all know these lines are drawn arbitrarily by politicians in Harrisburg. I think the Dems are pissed they just lost their shot at recapturing the 6th.

  4. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    The shape isn’t the issue, though the 6th was gerrymandered by the GOP in the first place.

    The issue is strictly: how can he legally run in a district he doesn’t reside?

    What is the rule? Can he run for ANY seat in PA?

  5. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    I didn’t realize that golf-ball distances were part of the legal process.

    Where do you draw the line?

    The school stuff is irrelevant. That’s local. Where his business was is also irrelevant.

  6. John Gallagher

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Take a look @ your girl Allyson Schwartz, she did the same thing Diano. However, this is less egregious. His house straddles the two districts and is right on the line, 80% of phoenixville is in the district.

    You can run for any Congressional seat in any part of the state so long as you are a registered elector of the Commonwealth. The legal issue is moot. Sorry that your 7th is going red and the 6th is staying red.

  7. Topton Pride

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Well political moves like this are stupid. They reek of politics and the people never like that. I think he should have to live in the district. You can say he knows that area, but if he isn’t really from it, how can he really say he cares, beyond that face he just wants to be in congress for whatever self inflated reason drives him.

  8. Tom

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Look, Welch is exactly the type of guy we need in Washington. And if you’re a Republican like me who was turned off over the last few years, only strong young job creators like Welch are going to put the party back on track. His house literally sits on the border, so stop making that an issue. Focus on the record and you’ll see Welch is unquestionably qualified. This wasn’t political, it was unselfish; Meehan is the higher profile candidate for the 7th. Now Republicans can get quality guys running for both seats. The districts win, voters win, the party wins and the Congress wins by having two pragmatic guys like Welch and Meehan.

  9. Topton Pride

    Sep 12th, 2009

    OK, so you made the case of him be able in your opinion to be a candidate in the 6ht, but none for why he is a “strong young job creator” or why he is “unquestionably qualified.” Care to fill us in? Because his crappy website does little to help me know what he is about. Maybe the people of the 6th should make a page for him with OUR issues so he knows what WE need since he probably isn’t very familiar.

  10. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Schwartz isn’t my “girl”. I don’t think “girl” has applied for decades.

    Don’t count your “red” votes before they are hatched.

    I’m just completely surprised that the law is set up that way. It just seems ripe for abuse (and Welch seems happy to pick that fruit).

    Welch is really opening himself up for attack. The Dems could easily run an ad: “Welch lives in the 7th district, but is running for the 6th district. Pike lives in the 6th district. Welch wouldn’t even be his own constituent. How can he be trusted?”
    Just because it’s “legal” doesn’t mean it’s fair or ethical.

    I think Sestak’s raising money for his 7th district race, and rolling it over to his Senate race was deceptive and he should offer to give it back too. It’s “legal” to keep it, but also dishonorable. Specter, to his credit, at least made the offer.

    There’s no guarantee Welch can even win his primary. The other 6th district GOP candidates are going to make it an issue.

  11. John Gallagher

    Sep 12th, 2009

    I’m just saying Alyson Schwartz did it and she is a Dem supporting Pike.

  12. aajane

    Sep 12th, 2009

    A brief note on Schwartz — her state senate district was mostly in the 13th congressional district. Her house was in one of the areas that was not. So she had been representing many voters / constituents of the 13th already. She moved into an area that was in both her state senate district and the 13th when she decided to run.

  13. Tom

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Topton Pride: Welch is young (32 I believe) and he started his own biotech company in his early twenties and built it into a successful and powerful force in the industry, ergo he created jobs. He comes from an entrepreneurial background, which is badly needed in DC. He is qualified because of his background in business and in being effective and of producing tangible results for his employees, his customers and himself. He won a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowhip, traveled the world studying the economies of other regions and he has a unique understanding of 21st century technology policy. Not only that, but he’s not an extremist…he actually voted for Sestak in ’06 because he was so fed up with Republicans. But he says now that he feels lied to by Sestak and is a strong fiscal conservative.

    Any more questions?

  14. John Gallagher

    Sep 12th, 2009

    The latter part of that logic ought to cheer up Mr. Diano.

  15. Topton Pride

    Sep 12th, 2009

    so are you his dad? campaign manager? brother?

    so he can run a business. That’s great. It shows he can run a company and make it grow. I don’t think that means he is a “job creator.”

    Tech policy isn’t going to mean anything to the people of the 6th. So far his resume looks great for someone trying to get a corporate job in a tech firm, but none of this makes him qualified to represent that people of the 6th district. A people who he shouldn’t represent.

  16. Dan

    Sep 12th, 2009

    The buzz is that Welch and Meehan set the whole thing up with the help of the beloved machine, Welch as a placeholder who would boast about how much money he has in order to scare off potential challengers after Sestak left the race. He held the spot for Meehan alright.

  17. John Gallagher

    Sep 12th, 2009

    None of the above-just an activist who sees what kind of leadership we need.

  18. Tom Tomeo

    Sep 12th, 2009

    I love it-the D’s are up in arms. This guy must be doing something right.

  19. Dan the Ironman

    Sep 12th, 2009

    And being a journalist makes Doug Pike qualified how?

  20. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    I don’t know about the other “D’s”, but I’m not “up-in-arms” about it. I think it’s wrong to run in a district in which you don’t live. So, I do think it’s wrong for Schwartz to be eligible.

    The ONLY exception I could understand would be if someone was elected to congress from his own district, and the legislature redistricted him into a new district afterward. In that case, I would support grandfathering in the already elected official to run again in his original district (as long as he stayed in his original house as well).

    If the economy is doing well by election time 2010, Welch and Meehan will both get their a@@es handed to them. If the economy is doing poorly, the non-incumbent Dem candidates will likely lose. As long as both sides are able to raise enough to get their message out, the actually candidates are almost irrelevant as the election will be a referendum on Obama.

    Meehan’s not renown for being particularly ethical. Whether or not any skeletons will emerge from his closet remains to be seen. Unfortunately, a rough GOP governors primary would have been the best opportunity for them to come out as GOP insiders took sides and tell tales.

    Fortunately, Lentz plays it clean and straight, so he doesn’t need to go into the dirt to beat Meehan.

  21. David Diano

    Sep 12th, 2009

    Doug’s background certainly would help inform him on a wide range of issues, understand the right questions to be asking, and help him cut through political spin. His skills would also help in communicate more effectively with his constituents.

  22. Welch is done

    Sep 13th, 2009

    There is no way a RINO like Welch survives a primary with Curt Schroder. A pro-abortion Republican? Ha! Welch is finished before he starts.

  23. huw

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Welch has gotten off to a terrible start,
    announcing his candidacy in the 7th with
    a lot of fanfare and then dropping out when
    the bosses went with Meehan. Now he’s running
    for a district he barely lives in. Not a guy
    i would vote for

  24. KJM

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Constitutionally, you only have to be a resident of the state to run for congress anywhere in it.
    Legally, does PA have a more restrictive residency law? If so, there would still be a residency date, and with the election more than a year away, and a healthy bank account, he can rent an apt and re-establish residency.
    But for practical purposes, everyone is right about it being a liability. Has he cut a deal, though? Can Party leadership push either of the other candidates out of the race?

  25. Walsingham

    Sep 13th, 2009

    For better or for worse, once the dust settles, Welch will be endorsed by the local GOP organizations and it will be difficult for anyone to defeat him in the 6th Primary race. As I said a few days ago, local leaders have been intensely pushing for this to happen, and they see both Meehan and Welch running together as a win-win. While this surely is disappointing to supporters of other candidates, most voters will view both of them as strong, top notch candidates in 2010 as the GOP fights to win these two competitive suburban seats.

  26. ChescoHomey

    Sep 13th, 2009


  27. PhillyLib

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Yay for mud slinging! This is exactly why we need more people like Welch in Washington. If you cant reconcile the fact that his residence is just slightly outside of the 6th, I dont know what to tell you. Maybe focus on the issues? That would be helpful.

  28. Dan the Ironman

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Welch is impressing everyone he meets. He was in a precarious situation b/c he lived in a seat that was parochial in nature and centered on Delaware County. Conversely, Phonenixville is the major hub of the 6th, but the sliver he lives in is not part of the district.

  29. Welch is done

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Welch is done before he started. Schroder – 60%, Costello 20%, and Welch 20%.

  30. Dan the Ironman

    Sep 13th, 2009

    Man that sounds scientific–you have no idea what you’re talking about clearly.

    The first two candidates will have no money and now way of getting a message out.

    ZERO SHOT. But I still think it will be close. There’s no doubt his switch will be an issue but when ppl understand the nature of it and see the real problems we face and the fact that Schroeder is a career politician. He’s toast.

    55, 45 Welch over Schroeder. Costello drops out.

  31. Topton Pride

    Sep 14th, 2009

    It’s not mudslinging. People want a representative to live among them. It’s simple. They don’t want to feel like a candidate is running simply for themselves. And they shouldn’t be. Welch didn’t think it out. Mean while Curt Schrouder, Ryan Costello, and Doug Pike have been on the ground and live in the 6th and are already way ahead.

  32. Drew

    Sep 14th, 2009

    I’m shocked that the law allows someone to run in a district in which he/she does not reside. I had no idea.

  33. PA Mom

    Sep 14th, 2009

    That Welch lives a mile from the 6th district border is no big deal. It makes much more sense for him to run in the 6th because this is his community. It’s where he started his company, it’s where he shops and eats. This guy is great. I’m sick of the sense of entitlement the other candidates have. Welch will win this race and it will be accomplishment, not entitlement.

  34. Winston

    Sep 14th, 2009

    Lets face it, in his first true test in politics Steve Welch FAILED!!! HE was muscled out by the remnants of the Delaware County War Board. What did he get from them? What is the deal? Instead of being independent and standing up to them and running in the seat where he resides (Upper PRovidence, Montgomery County btw, not Phoenixville), Welch folded to them like a cheap suit!!! IT doesn’t matter whether his yard is 10 feet or 100 miles from the 6th. HE is NOT one of us!

  35. Jeff

    Sep 14th, 2009

    So if we would have moved back to his home a couple of months ago and then entered the race, he WOULD be one of you? Grow up.

    I’m looking forward to talking about the issues and not talking about this petty crap.

  36. Topton Pride

    Sep 14th, 2009

    NO, either he is from here or not. I think he is pretty clear about that asshole.

  37. […] The race to represent Conshohocken in Congress becomes more clear. […]

  38. flynnbw

    Sep 15th, 2009

    Look, I remember when Patrick Murphy was criticized literally DAILY in the 8th District race in 2006 because he wasn’t “from Bucks County.” Then-Rep. Fitzpatrick essentially made it the centerpiece of his campaign.

    Never mind that Patrick grew up in the Parkwood section of Far Northeast Philadelphia (literally about a football field away from the district line) or that, after returning from his Army service, decided to settle down in Bucks County like so many others from Philadelphia have done over the last fifty years – he wasn’t FROM the District.

    Now a Republican who was ACTUALLY RUNNING for another Congressional seat switches his campaign in a blatantly political move, and what do we hear from the GOP? Nothing.

    Again, I don’t want to directly criticize Mr. Welch here — it seems like he was getting into the race for the right reasons, and it would have been tough for a MontCo resident to win in the 7th. But come on now – let’s have some consistency!

    I guess the deeper point here is this — we need to have districts that represent coherent political/geographical units. I believe MontCo is represented by something like six different Members of Congress! This is absurd. I hope that the PA state government does something right and uses common sense when re-drawing lines in 2011. No more salamander-shaped districts.

  39. […] According to our friends at, DreamIt Ventures co-founder and current Republican congressional candidate Steve Welch has announced he has changed the district he is seeking to represent. […]

  40. karlub

    Oct 5th, 2009

    Quick note to the commenter who suggested the sixth district generally, and Phoenixville specifically, is where Welch lives “and eats.”

    I loved Welch for the seventh, and met with him in Phoenixville to try and persuade him to stay there. We met at a local cafe called “Irish Joes” which is a favorite to the locals, and near where he just opened an office.

    Had never been there before.

    Now, I do not mean to imply this is particularly egregious. But I do mean to imply he is best off playing this straight rather than trying to fool people.

    Again, as I said: Loved Welch for the Seventh. But not for the sixth. Schroder is a conservative candidate with nationally recognized reformist legislation under his belt who nevertheless has broad bipartisan appeal. People like that should be promoted, not undermined through interparty gamesmanship.

  41. […] on 11/07/2006 to the Democrat party until he decided to run for the PA-7 House seat in 2009. He was chased out of the PA-7 race and switched to the PA-6 House race for Congressman Jim Gerlach’s seat against conservative […]

  42. Pete LeVan

    Dec 6th, 2009

    The only one looking clever in all this is Jim Gerlach. Gerlach saw the proverbial writing on the wall that the Sixth is going Democrat this time. So by “chickening-out” of the Congressional race he looks courageous taking-on Corbett. Berks County, which put Gerlach over the top THREE TIMES, now has a scary Republican registration of ONLY 34%.
    FEDERAL LAW dictates that a Congressman need only live in the STATE he represents. Welch could run for a seat in Erie if he wanted. This is not as uncommon as you may think. Bela Abzug, the 70s icon, actually represented 3 different districts throughout her career while never living in any of them.

  43. […] on on 11/07/2006 to the Democrat party until he decided to run for the PA-7 House seat in 2009. He was chased out of the PA-7 race and switched to the PA-6 House race for Congressman Jim Gerlach’s seat against conservative […]

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