Both Parties' Grassroots Strive To Clean Up The Corruption. Pennsylvania Republicans Have A Shot A Week From Today
Last week we looked at how the Airline industry-- through their trade association-- chipped in to buy Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee a sexual relationship with a lady lobbyist. Over the weekend, that was one of the main topics in a rancorous GOP primary debate between the embattled Shuster and teabagger Art Halvorson. Keep in mind that Shuster expects voters to believe that although he admits he has sex with airline lobbyist Shelley Rubino, she doesn't lobby him or his staff because it's against his office rules. Shutter's assertions are a comment on how stupid he believes Republican voters in PA-09 are. The two also faced off last cycle, when Shuster beat him 52.8% to 34.5%
The sharp tone in their sole debate before the Republican primary April 26 was almost inevitable, with Shuster on the defensive over his romantic ties to a lobbyist with major interests before his committee.
Halvorson portrayed Shuster as continuing a family tradition of trading on his position of influence in Washington, comparing the incumbent’s actions to those of his father, Bud Shuster, who resigned from Congress in 2001 under a cloud of impropriety.
“I’m not owned by the lobbyists; Mr. Shuster is,” Halvorson said at one point. “In fact, he cavorts with a lobbyist who lobbies his committee.”
After the debate, Halvorson went further, calling Shuster an “idiot” after the incumbent accused him of not understanding the district based on Halvorson’s characterization of the debate location-- far west of its geographic center-- as the “fringe.”
...A defeat for Shuster would be the most successful voter rebellion against a high-ranking Republican congressman since then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down at the hands of political neophyte Dave Brat in 2014. Shuster is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads and polling in the final weeks of the campaign, an indication he sees Halvorson as a serious threat. But the 55-year-old congressman is far better known in the district and has a bigger campaign war chest, and for those reasons he remains the favorite.
...Throughout the debate, Halvorson portrayed Shuster’s D.C. dealings as nefarious. The challenger criticized Shuster’s relationship with Rubino multiple times, then used a question about ethics submitted by a local GOP and tea party leader to level his harshest broadside.
Sixteen years ago, “we had a senior congressman who was chairman of transportation, was reprimanded and resigned in disgrace, and 16 years later we have a similar, almost exact situation happening,” Halvorson said. “And yet it’s OK, and somehow the ethics must’ve changed, or else the friends of the current congressman have allowed a different interpretation of the House ethics rules.
"But as I read it, this close intimate relationship with a lobbyist who has access to his committee and who is able to pass fast-track legislation through his committee and then cavort on South Beach, Florida, almost as a celebration of what they had just foisted on the American public, I think is disgraceful and I think is grounds for him to resign." That was an apparent reference to a bill to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration that Shuster's committee approved in February, days before he traveled to Miami with Rubino and another Airlines for America lobbyist.
Bud Shuster, who also headed the transportation committee, resigned from Congress in 2001, not long after he was rebuked by the House ethics committee for favoring a former aide turned lobbyist.
...One wild card is how Donald Trump’s candidacy will affect turnout in the House race. Halvorson’s campaign has tried to capitalize on Trump’s anti-establishment sentiment, running an ad urging voters to “fire Bill Shuster” with a visual stamp that says “You’re fired”-- Trump’s reality-show catchphrase.
Shuster supporters countered that voters who haven’t been paying close attention to the congressional primary might just go with the familiar name, giving the incumbent an advantage.