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