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GOP chairman to face Tea Party rematch

GOP chairman to face Tea Party rematch
© Anne Wernikoff

Tea Party insurgent Art Halvorson is seeking a rematch against powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) in the GOP primary next spring, Halvorson said in a statement first shared with The Hill.

The real estate investor and retired Coast Guard captain will officially announce Tuesday morning he’s challenging Shuster, a close ally to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who came under fire this year for dating a top airline industry lobbyist.

“The challenges this country, this state, and this District face are far too serious to accept the status quo,” Halvorson said. “We cannot stand by and allow corrupt politicians in Washington to enrich special interests at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.”

Shuster trounced Halvorson in the 2014 primary, 53 percent to 34.5 percent. A third candidate, Travis Schooley, captured 12.7 percent.

Halvorson’s first run for public office, however, demonstrated that some Republicans in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District were searching for a conservative alternative.

Halvorson’s campaign also highlighted his inexperience and lack of discipline.

He called 911 on a video tracker, telling police that the individual was “stalking” him. He also railed against Shuster’s $8 billion water bill, even while volunteering that his North Carolina beachfront property would benefit from the legislation.

He’ll be more experienced this time around.

Halvorson said he was dedicating his campaign to Tom Smith. The former 2012 Senate GOP nominee had been looking to take on Shuster this cycle but became seriously ill and backed out.

Halvorson’s campaign, he said, will focus on restoring the Constitution, reestablishing America’s leadership in the world and cutting the size of the federal government, among other things.

And it will build on last year’s effort, which was mostly funded with his own money.

“Coming from nowhere, with no political experience, and very little money,” he said in the statement, “we attracted an amazing grassroots network of concerned citizens and voters who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and worked hard to bring about a new era of ethics, honesty and competence.”

Shuster, who has served in Congress since 2001, is the son of former House Transportation Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.).

In the 2014 cycle, the younger Shuster spent most of the $4 million he raised. He’ll have a big head start in the 2016 rematch, however. As of June 30, Shuster had hauled in more than $1 million and had $1.1 million cash on hand.