U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, a southwestern Pennsylvania Republican, has announced he’s not seeking reelection after 17 years in office.
His seat now joins a lengthening list of vacancies that could help make Pennsylvania one of the most important states in November’s congressional elections.
With Shuster’s departure, four of the commonwealth’s 13 Republican-held seats stand open.
The others belong to midstate moderate Charlie Dent, who’s retiring; Hazelton conservative Lou Barletta, who’s running for U.S. Senate; and Tim Murphy, who left his suburban Pittsburgh seat last year amid a scandal.
Murphy will be replaced in a special election on March 13.
Franklin and Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna said most of the open seats will probably stay Republican.
“The one that strikes me as the most likely place for a switch would be in the Dent seat,” he said.
But open seats aren’t the only way for Democrats to make inroads. The minority party is also targeting GOP congressmen Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, and Brian Fitzpatrick in the Philadelphia suburbs. They represent the 6th, 7th, and 8th districts respectively—all of which are rated Republican-leaning seats, but are considered somewhat vulnerable.
“Our state is going to be one of the top states in the country — ground zero in the midterm election,” Madonna said.
He noted, the current political climate and President Trump’s low approval ratings are creating a lot of uncertainty about which seats will be competitive.