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Welch withdraws from 6th District race (Updated)

Welch withdraws from 6th District race (Updated)

KENNETT SQUARE—Republican Steven Welch abruptly dropped out of the race for Congress in the 6th District Saturday morning, allowing the GOP to avoid an expensive primary fight and dimming Democratic hopes of winning the suburban Philadelphia district.

Welch made his sudden announcement as Chester County Republicans opened their nominating convention at a banquet hall here. Having asked to address the audience of almost 400 local committee members, Welch lauded what he called the “completely open” process in Chester County, and then stepped aside.

“For me to fight hard right now would do more harm than good,” Welch said. “For that reason, I am withdrawing.

“We have a chance to send Jim Gerlach back to Congress to lead the way forward,” he added.

His decision, which he told was only made late Friday night, marks the close of the first chapter of a young political career that was stymied by a couple rounds of bad luck, but one which he enthusiastically said will continue. Asked if a future run for public office is in the cards, Welch said “absolutely, yes.”

“Let’s be honest,” he said, “I’ve had a relatively unlucky start to this career, but I’ve enjoyed it.”

However he moves forward, it seems he can count on future support from Chester County Republicans. After taking the stage to some grumblings from committee members, he left to nothing but applause. During a subsequent interview, one committeeman approached Welch and said “that was a great move—the party will respect you forever.”

After Welch’s withdrawal, Gerlach easily won the party’s endorsement—but not before state Representative Curt Schroder, who dropped out of the race last month, had garnered a significant number of committee votes.

“This endorsement clearly signals that Republicans are energized and united in purpose this year,” Gerlach said in a statement later.

Welch, a wealthy biotech entrepreneur, had originally planned to run for Congress in the 7th District, but switched to the 6th District race after former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan became the GOP’s leading candidate in the 7th. At the time of the switch, Gerlach, the 6th District incumbent Republican, was running for governor, and Welch was a leading contender in the crowded GOP primary to replace him. But Gerlach changed his mind last month and decided to seek reelection, leading a couple other candidates to drop from the race, even as Welch seemed resolute that, this time, he was staying put.

“Clearly there was no path that would help the ideals I believe in,” Welch said in the interview. “I was going to lose.

“While I don’t agree with Jim on everything,” he added, “I certainly think he’s better than the Democratic alternative.”

His decision, which came as county Democrats were scheduled to vote on their endorsement in the race just 10 miles away, again shakes up a political landscape that has been reordered more than a few times this cycle. Six months ago, it was Republicans who were facing a potentially divisive primary, while Democrats seemed to have unified behind Doug Pike. Now, the tables are turned, with the GOP firmly behind Gerlach and Democrats looking at a competitive, three-way primary. Welch, for his part, had loaned his campaign half-a-million dollars, and can recoup any of that money that went unspent. The $150,000 he contributed outright, though, cannot be returned.

Before exiting the race, Welch lauded the Chester County party for what he called a fair endorsement process—something he contrasted with Montgomery County Republican leaders who, he said, didn’t inform him of their recent decision to endorse Gerlach or invite him to make his case (Welch said he learned about the endorsement from

“I meant what I said in there,” Welch said afterward. “The party has been amazing. This has been fair. I want everyone to know that I will still be involved in this process, even though I’m not a candidate.”

February 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments [24] | post a comment

  1. [...] Welch withdraws from PA-6, backs Gerlach… [...]

  2. David Diano

    Feb 20th, 2010

    If Steve moves back to his house in the 7th, he can still run against Meehan.

  3. Benjamin Barnett

    Feb 20th, 2010

    This report sounds like a luke warm endorsement of Gerlach if you ask me. Considering the constant bait and switch going on, I wonder why this move was made. Polls show Gerlach winning but then again, polls showed him winning the Governor race, then he dropped out. I wonder what back room deals went down during this process? We’ll have to keep digging …

  4. Karl Jacobson

    Feb 20th, 2010

    Welch welched, that is all there to it, he did not have the stones to go forward, it had nothing to do with party unity. Love of committee does not necessarily translate to love of the electorate.

  5. Adam Lang

    Feb 20th, 2010

    This was probably a smart political move for Welch.

  6. Nic

    Feb 20th, 2010

    This is a shame. This is the best young republican candidate out there. Probably would have been killed in the primary, but he was made for the general election in this climate.

    If he is smart he will return to being an Angel Investor and forget about this politics business.

  7. Carol K.

    Feb 20th, 2010

    He has a bright future ahead!!!!

  8. Bill Montgomery III

    Feb 20th, 2010

    If I am not mistaken was Steve Welch not a registered Democrat just over a year ago? He is a nice guy and smart to boot but someone who is jumping around political parties and districts seemingly just trying to get elected to SOMETHING is not the true conservative we need right now.

    And let’s not forget that Gerlach voted for HR 1424 which was a bailout package, HR 1913 a hate crimes expansion bill, and HR 2751 which was the cash for clunkers bill. Just voting yes for these three unconstitutional bills alone should have any true patriot or fiscal conservative demanding his resignation. Does anyone else care about something besides having an “R” behind our representatives name in the House?

    There is still one other person running for this seat named Pat Sellers but you won’t hear about him because he is not super wealthy like Welch or endorsed by the GOP machine like Gerlach. Pat Sellers is a true constitutional conservative. The GOP will be shooting themselves in the foot if they take back the Congress and/or presidency unless we get the right people into office.

  9. Bret

    Feb 20th, 2010

    He made me a peanut butter sandwich once.

  10. Chet

    Feb 20th, 2010

    I hear Trivedi won the Dem endorsement at today’s Dem convention, but that Pike said memorably of the incumbent: “Gerlach is one of the most despicable campaigners I’ve ever seen.” Whichever is the “Democratic alternative” after May 18, Gerlach will be hit from the Dem side and, judging by Bill Montgomery III above, from the far right as well. People are paying attention this time around, and it’s not a good year to be an incumbent.

  11. David Diano

    Feb 20th, 2010

    I got the impression that Welch is a moderate, and the GOP wanted a right-wing puppet like Gerlach.

  12. ConcernedforPA

    Feb 20th, 2010

    I don’t get it…..Gerlach gets grief because some say he is a RINO while you say he’s a right wing puppet. So what is it? He is someone that votes his conscience and doesn’t necessarily vote the party line. That’s the kind of candidate that I am glad that we have in our district.

  13. Lee Levan

    Feb 20th, 2010

    Bill III

    Precisely when did you replace the Supreme Court? Or do you believe that the SC is unconstitutional, also?

    OMG, Gerlach voted to protect more people from hate crimes? How terrible!

  14. Jeff

    Feb 20th, 2010

    Bill my friend I can’t even conjure up a response to the nonsense you have posted. You should be tea bagged sir!

  15. Steve Schrom

    Feb 21st, 2010

    boooooo!!! welch you pussy.

  16. Bill Montgomery III

    Feb 21st, 2010

    Jeff and Lee, have you read our constitution? I am no expert but I do not think that the congress has the true authority to pass those bills mentioned above without completely abusing the commerce clause. Just because the Supreme court has failed to do its job for the last century or so does not make those bills constitutional either. Our country got in the mess it is in by disregarding the Constitution which is the backbone of the entire government.

    Do you feel that the 700$ billion bailout bill was good legislation? How about the cash for clunkers program? Do you feel that our outrageous national dept is a good thing? Is it nonsensical to say that Gerlach should be ousted if I disagree with his judgment? If you can’t “conjure up” a response you most likely have no logical argument. I wonder if sarcastic remarks about Tea party members (I do not participate in the Tea party movement by the way) will be as humorous to you when the states and then possibly the Federal government go bankrupt because of their unbelievable deficit spending and debt.

    Hate crime laws are thought by many to be unconstitutional this is not some wacky idea I just came up with.

    ConcernedforPA, I could careless about party lines which I think I made clear in my first post. Supporting an incumbent who you do not believe in is towing the party line. If you feel that the Federal government should subsidize the purchase of new cars for strangers with your tax dollars then by all means you should follow your heart and continue to support Jim Gerlach.

  17. Nic

    Feb 21st, 2010

    Steve Schorn,

    Have you ever stood up and run for office? Have you committed your own money to trying to make a difference? If not I think we can assume this title fits you.

    Like I said Welch would have lost the primary. He ran the best campaign of anyone in the region. He was the only candidate that spoke of ideas. He probably published more opinion pieces than every other 6th district candidate combined. While I did not agree with every idea, they were all well thought out and demonstrated he was an independent thinker, which is what we need in Washington.

    But, Gerlach had 88% approval in a R primary. He could not over come that. Why would he waste his own money and help the D’s?

  18. Lee Levan

    Feb 21st, 2010

    Yes, Bill, I have read our constitutions, both federal and state, several times. In fact, I have studied constitutional law and been tested upon it in law school — and I passed.

    If you and others believe that a law is unconstitutional, then get together and challenge it in court. Until you do that successfully, then all you have is empty, baseless rhetoric, or as the courts sometimes say “a naked assertion”. Put your arguments to the test in court or be taken for an empty barrel.

  19. Kevin Kelly

    Feb 21st, 2010

    Steve has much to contribute to the political debate and has my support in the future.

  20. [...] who jumped from the open-seat 7th district House race to the (briefly) open-seat 6th district to off the ballot altogether, all in the span of several [...]

  21. EK

    Feb 22nd, 2010

    Diano: Gerlach has an ADA rating of 60 and an ACU rating of 55. You’d be a fool to call him a right-wing puppet.

    Lee Levan: Can’t challenge most laws in court – Government can decide not to be sued and most people don’t even have standing anyway… so yours is a moot point. Something that is unconstitional is so whether it’s challenged or not. That said, Mr. Montgomery is wrong about the bills in question.

    To the point: I wish Mr. Welch the best of luck in the future, and I hope he comes back to politics with luckier timing sometime soon (maybe after re-districting?).

  22. Jeff Heillmann

    Feb 22nd, 2010


    You have already proven to the people in Delaware County that you don’t know alot about politics, why go out and prove it to all of Pa.?

    Gerlach is anything but “Right-Wing”, he is liberal on a number of social issues, but better than anything your party has to offer.

    Steve, thanks for backing out, I supported you in the 7th before Pat Meehan entered the race and I will support you in your future political career.

  23. Brett

    Feb 22nd, 2010

    Herr Heillmann, vould you like to go out and get some brachvurst.

  24. SickOfIitAll

    Feb 26th, 2010


    If you support the “reasoning” offered in Wickard v Filburn and subsequent cases such as Raich then I feel sorry for you because the education you recieved in law school was merely indoctrination.

    A=A is the basis for rational reasoning lest you forget it again.

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