Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Doug Pike

Rep. Jim Gerlach Will Seek Re-Election to the 6th District . . . Where Does the News Leave Steve Welch (R) and Doug Pike (D)?

I guess by now most of you have heard that Rep Jim Gerlach will seek a fifth House term for the 6th Congressional District– having made this decision a day after he dropped out of the race for Pennsylvania governor. Gerlach made the decision to forgo his gubernatorial bid and stand for reelection to the House. When he withdrew from the Governor’s race, Gerlach explained that he did not think that the $1 million that he had raised was not enough to compete in “today’s media-driven campaigns” for a statewide election.

Gerlach had announced his gubernatorial bid last July. This recent decision to seek a fifth term in the House would seem to create an unsettling effect on the competitive 6th Congressional District contest. The local GOP had recruited Steve Welch, a local businessman and entrepreneur and he has raised $600,000 for his campaign. Former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer Doug Pike is the Democrat opponent for the congressional race; Pike has collected in excess of $1.1 million for his campaign.

Gerlach cannot transfer the $1 million that he raised for the governor’s race into his congressional race. Talk about a campaign bookkeeping nightmare . . . he must return the governor’s race money to his donors and then ask these people to redirect their contributions to his reelection to the House campaign. It is reported that Gerlach had less than $35,000 in his congressional account as of September 30. I assumed that he could just take the $1 million and be set for the congressional race – I was wrong, so guess he is going to be quite busy trying to turn this ship around and redirect it.

This news had me wondering how the other 6th Congressional District candidates were feeling, in partuclar frontrunners Steve Welch (R) and Doug Pike (D). Welch’s campaign website attempts to show support for Gerlach’s 6th District reelection decision, however it was also very clear that he intends to stay the course with his own campaign and remain in the race. Gerlach’s decision to seek reelection however did cause two other GOP candidates to close down their campaigns. Scott Zelov, Lower Merion Township Commission and former 6th District GOP candidate is returning his campaign contributions and giving support to Gerlach. Likewise, former 6th District GOP candidate Howard Cohen has decided to close his campaign and has signed on to the Gerlach reelection campaign.

So how does frontrunner Democrat Doug Pike feel . . . a few days ago Pike was probably feeling rather confident, especially considering that he was handily out-fundraising opponent Steve Welch? However, now Pike finds himself opposing Jim Gerlach, an incumbent with 4 terms behind him. But hearing the Gerlach decision, Pike remains committed in his own bid for the 6th District seat and his campaign will continues. Pike will face Reading doctor Manan Trivedi and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon in the Democratic primary.

My guess is that it has not been a good couple of days for either Pike or Welch!

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