Rep. Bill Shuster (R)
Elected: May 2001, 4th full term.
Born: Jan. 10, 1961, McKeesport .
Education: Dickinson Col., B.A. 1983; American U., M.B.A. 1987.
Family: Married (Rebecca); 2 children.
Professional Career: Mgr., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 1983-87; District mgr., Bandag Inc., 1987-90; Owner & gen. mgr., Shuster Chrysler, 1990-2001.
The congressman from the 9th District is Bill Shuster, a Republican who won a May 2001 special election to succeed his father, Bud Shuster, for six years the powerful chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Bill Shuster grew up in the Pittsburgh area, where his father started a successful business. After graduating from Dickinson College and American University’s business school, he moved to Blair County, where he took over the family’s car dealership, Shuster Chrysler in East Freedom, near Altoona. He sold the business in 2002.
|Bill Shuster (R)||174,951||(64%)||($979,174)|
|Tony Barr (D)||98,735||(36%)||($47,417)|
|Bill Shuster (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%), 2004 (69%), 2002 (71%), 2001 (52%)
Bud Shuster announced his resignation in January 2001, shortly after being re-elected to a 14th term. He was disgruntled that he failed to get an exemption from the House Republicans’ term limit on chairmanships. The contest for the House seat was for all practical purposes decided at a district-wide Republican convention. Facing nine other contenders, Shuster, with back-room help from his father, ran an insider campaign that took advantage of the family’s years of service. Although there was some local grumbling about a Shuster dynasty, opponents failed to coalesce behind a single candidate. Shuster won 69 of the 133 votes, two more than the required majority. National Democrats ignored the race in the heavily Republican district, which seemed to them hopeless. But Democrat H. Scott Conklin campaigned vigorously as an opponent of abortion rights and gun control. Shuster won by a closer than expected 52%-44%. National Republicans attributed the narrow margin to residual intra-party ill will over Shuster’s nomination.
In the House, Bill Shuster has a solidly conservative voting record. Naturally, he ended up on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he questioned whether parts of New Orleans below sea level should be rebuilt. Since 2007, Shuster has been the senior Republican on the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, where he has backed additional funding for Amtrak rail service and for freight-rail capacity. He has advocated more energy production, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, producing liquid fuel from coal and the building of more nuclear power plants.
In his father’s tradition, Shuster has been an avid practitioner of earmarked spending for his district, a practice that in recent years has been attacked by budget conservatives as wasteful. In 2008, he claimed $22 million in earmarks, including $8.3 million for water and sewer grants and $250,000 for a covered bridge near Greencastle. Democrats lampooned him in March 2009 for taking credit for $9 million to his district from President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, even though he had voted against the legislation. He was less amenable to funding for Berkeley, Calif., seeking unsuccessfully to cut $2 million for the city from an appropriations bill in 2008. After Berkeley told Marine recruiters they were unwelcome to set up shop in the city, Shuster called Berkeley “ground zero for radicals and leftist zealots.”
Shuster had an unusually strong challenge in the 2004 primary from Michael DelGrosso, a management consultant whose family owns a Blair County tomato sauce company. He said that the district needed a new economic approach. DelGrosso carried Blair County and three nearby counties in the northern part of the district, but Shuster ran strongly elsewhere and squeezed by with a 51%-49% win. He has not been seriously challenged in recent elections.