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Republican Ryan Mackenzie drops out of race for Congress in Lehigh Valley

From the Morning Call (Allentown)

Republican state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie has become the latest candidate to end his campaign for Congress in the Lehigh Valley area.

At different points since last summer, 15 candidates had announced bids to replace outgoing GOP U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent. Mackenzie’s decision, announced Friday afternoon, leaves two Republicans and five Democrats.

In a statement, Mackenzie said he was ending his campaign because the district’s boundaries had changed under a new map the state Supreme Court drew in response to its decision that the old map was illegal.

The old map, in existence since the 2012 election, had the 15th District stretching from part of Northampton County west toward Harrisburg. That design favored Republicans.

The new map renumbered the district as the 7th and placed in in more favorable Democratic territory: all of Lehigh and Northampton counties and southern Monroe County.

Prior to the change, Mackenzie had been considered a strong contender to succeed Dent.

Still, Mackenzie’s decision was not unexpected. Rumors began circulating last week that he was debating whether to end his congressional campaign. In addition, Mackenzie had changed his mind and decided to seek re-election to the 134th legislative district after previously deciding to only run for Congress.


“When the Supreme Court threw the congressional elections into upheaval through its overreach and activism, I was approached by residents of all parties from my state House district to circulate nominating petitions for that office,” Mackenzie said in a statement. “I did that and have now officially filed for state representative. I feel an obligation to answer the request of the people I serve and focus on re-election to the state House.”

Mackenzie now faces a primary challenge to hold on to his state job. He faces Lower Macungie Commissioner Ron Beitler in the May 15 primary. The winner takes on Democrat Democrat Tom Applebach in the November election.

“For the past two months I’ve knocked on more than 1,200 doors in the district,” Beitler said. “What I’ve learned is that voters want a state representative who sees this position as an opportunity to serve their community, not as a career stepping stone. The district should not be someone’s backup plan or a consolation prize.”

Amid the chaos of the state’s shifting congressional map and the beginning of petitions to get on the ballot, several candidates have changed their minds about the race to replace Dent.

Some, like GOP Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries, were forced out because they no longer live in the district. Although there is no constitutional provision requiring candidates to live within a congressional district, it’s virtually impossible for them to win if they don’t.

Democrat Bill Leiner dropped out after the Democratic field expanded and he struggled to raise money.

The remaining Republican candidates are Marty Nothstein and Dean Browning.

The Democrats are Greg Edwards, Rick Daugherty, John Morganelli, Dave Weidman and Susan Wild.

Read more.

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