(a recurring series, for all click here)
For Pennsylvania’s last congressional district, we travel to the southern border with Maryland, which used to form the Mason-Dixon Line, which once separated the free North with the slave South. This district encompasses all of Adams and York counties, and parts of Cumberland County. Most of the district is rolling farmlands, and includes pockets of Amish settlement in York County . The population centers are Hanover, Gettysburg and York to the south, while Carlisle and Mechanicsburg top out the northern end of the district, which juts out towards Harrisburg. However, most of the population is in York County, which is one of the fastest growing areas in the Northeast, and the county is home to many who commute to nearby Baltimore. The tourism industry surrounding Gettysburg, perhaps one of the most visited battlefields in the Western Hemisphere, contributes a large part of the districts economic output. Other major employers are major pretzel companies like Hanover and Utz, and motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson, which remains as one of the last major manufacturing operations in the state. The 19th is the second most Republican district in Pennsylvania, and the Republican Party was born among the hardy German immigrants who settled here among the rolling farmlands centuries ago. The district gave Bush 64% in 2004, a 3% increase from 2000, which means that Democrats largely do not bother competing here. Former incumbents include Bill Goodling, who served for the better part of three decades and chaired the Education and Workforce committees before retiring in 2000.
Goodling’s successor is Todd Platts, a Republican from York who was elected in 2000. Before being elected, Platts practiced law in the area and served four terms in the state House. When Goodling retired, a number of Republicans jumped in the race, and Platt was widely perceived as more moderate. Despite Goodling endorsing one of his opponents and being outspent, Platt won the primary by a slim 4% running on a slogan of “Putting the People First”. He proceeded to defeat the Democratic nominee by an overwhelming majority, propelling him to the seat. Since then, he has faced little opposition, going unopposed by a Democrat in 2002 and 2004. In the House, Platt has composed a moderate voting record that sharply contrasts his district, and he has joined the Republican Main Street Partnership, a caucus that usually features vulnerable Republicans like Charlie Dent or Jim Gerlach. This has not sparked much resentment in his district except for a perfunctory primary challenge in 2002. In keeping with his predecessor, he joined the Workforce and Education Committees and has expressed interest in oversight roles for the federal bureaucracy.
Platts was opposed in 2006 by York School Board President Phil Avillo, and only took 64% or the vote despite no notable opposition. Despite this, Platts is not vulnerable, as the overwhelming Republican lean of the district will prevent any upset. Avillo has filed to run against Platts once again this year, but has raised little money of note and is unlikely to pose a serious threat. Platts has not even bothered to raise money for this cycle, and only has $74,000 on hand. Platts will cruise to victory, and he will likely hold this seat for as long as he wishes.
Todd Platts(R)- 64%
Phil Avillo(D)- 33%
Todd Platts(R)- 91%
Charles Steel(Green)- 4%
2000 GOP Primary
Todd Platts- 33%
Al Masland- 29%
Dick Stewert- 19%
Michael Barone’s Almanac
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