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Houlahan, Ciarrocchi Spar in 6th District Debate

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan faced off against challenger Guy Ciarrocchi at a forum sponsored by the Greater Reading Unity Coalition Sunday evening.

There were some clear differences, as Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester), who was first elected in 2018, defended her record, and Republican Ciarrocchi laid the blame for the 8 percent inflation hitting Pennsylvania residents at the feet of the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress.

“The economy is in shambles. Inflation is out of control,” Ciarrocchi said. “We all know that every time we buy gasoline, every time we pay a utility bill, every time we go to the grocery store, every time we have to talk to our parents or grandparents who are senior citizens, every time we talk to a single mom. Every time every one of us gets out and about every day of the week. It’s out of control.

“Energy prices are too high. The stock market’s sinking, so if you saved money, you have less money than before you saved. Mortgage rates are going up and denying people the ability to buy their first home. The economy is in crisis, much of it because of bad decisions.”

“Washington has been spending money way too fast,” he said. “We spent almost double the federal budget passing out money…You don’t need a degree from Wharton to understand that spending $6 trillion extra dollars is going to cause inflation. You don’t need to be an expert in the economy to realize if the president and the Democratic Congress decide to slow down our output of oil and gas, it’s going to cause prices to spike. So, what do you do? Stop spending if you’re in a hole; stop digging. This crowd starts looking for a bigger shovel.”

Ciarrocchi said high energy prices are increasing the costs of everything that is transported, including food and medicine.

Houlahan said, “Inflation is real, and it is painful, and it is a consequence of a lot. It’s a catastrophic virus we had to deal with for the first time in 100 years. It’s the catastrophic war in Ukraine that we’ve all dealt with. It’s a lot of decisions we all have made, the very best decisions that we could make when thousands and thousands of people were dying every single day over the last two years. We made choices.

“I am working really hard in Congress as a person who has a background in supply chain management, a person who’s a former businessperson that we made all the best choices that we possibly could,” she said. She said she has developed a package on how to deal with inflation. “We passed the Inflation Reduction Act that will reduce drug prices and that will put more money in pockets. So, inflation isn’t just about increasing prices but how far your dollar goes.

“It allows for more renewables as well…The Infrastructure and Jobs Act is also part of that plan to make sure we have more jobs that are better paying and allow us to get to work safely and more cheaply…There is more to do.”

“With all due respect, I think the Democratic Congress spent most of the last year pretending that inflation wasn’t real,” Ciarrocchi responded. “And then, when we got close to the election, they decided to take the Green New Deal title off it and call it the Inflation Reduction Act.

“According to CBS, CNN and Wharton, it’s not going to lower inflation. It’s more likely to make it go up and get worse. Our energy prices are going up. Our food costs are going up…The Inflation Reduction Act was taking $730 trillion and adding to the billions already spent…It gave us 87,000 more IRS agents,” Ciarrocchi added.

Houlahan said the IRS agents are needed for customer service, including money to modernize that agency’s aging computer software.

Asked about the environment and agriculture, Houlahan said, “Climate change is real, and people cause it.” She said it was an economic and national security issue.

“We saw in the last few years, 100-year floods twice in our area that caused, in the case of Chester County, a federal state of emergency…At a federal level, what we can do is worry about evolving toward renewable energy.” She said the Inflation Reduction Act would add more renewable energy.

Ciarrocchi said, “It is important that we protect our environment…One way is we protect family farms…Well run, good farms protect our environment, protect our quality of life…right now, the government all too often at the national level tries to get involved.” He said he’d prefer the federal government partner with state and local government. “No matter how smart and well-meaning the folks at the EPA are, somebody on the 13th floor at the EPA doesn’t know Berks County as well as the folks here, to trust and empower them to what’s necessary… It’s a balance. We should have a good, clean environment and a strong, vibrant economy.”

The candidates disagreed on abortion, with Ciarrocchi saying he is pro-life and that the Dobbs decision allows each state to decide its own laws. Houlahan said she is strongly pro-choice and has voted twice for federal legislation to ensure women’s right to choose on a national level, so there isn’t a “wild, wild west” on abortion.

Ciarrocchi called on her to stop misrepresenting his position in campaign mailings.

And on the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the committee investigating it, the pair also had a difference of opinion. Ciarrocchi said the country needs to move on.

“It’s time for this committee to bring this to a close,” he said. “We have an economy that’s falling apart. We have problems of safety in our own communities. We have issues within our own nation. We need to work on our own energy supply. We need to get Republicans and Democrats to stop fighting with each other and focus on the things that impact our lives. The committee has been in existence for a year and a half. Either things need to be brought to the attention of the Justice Department, and people need to be charged, or we need to bring this to a close. We need to move beyond this chapter…We need to move forward.”

Houlahan said, “We cannot simply put the past behind us. There’s too much at stake. Clearly, our democracy is at stake. This was a free and fair election…This is a case where Congress can do both. We can obviously consider the everyday issues, kitchen table issues, but I would argue our democracy is a kitchen table issue as well. It’s the thing that allows us to exist as a free and fair election…This was an insurrection, and it’s really important that we identify it, recognize it, that we investigate it, and we make sure that it never, ever happens again under any circumstances or under any person’s watch.”

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Oz, Ciarrocchi Hit Chester County Campaign Trail

The Delaware Valley may be trending Democratic, but that did not stop the nation’s top Republican from coming to Chester County to rally the GOP troops.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel revved up a crowd of Republican activists Saturday morning at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern. They gathered to knock on doors for U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and Guy Ciarrocchi, the GOP challenger to incumbent Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. Her message: Vote Republican in Pennsylvania and fire Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer from their leadership posts in Washington.

NRC Chair Ronna McDaniel talks to Chester County Republicans at the Desmond Hotel on October 15, 2022.

Oz, who appears to be closing the polling gap with his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, continued his campaign focus on the crime issue.

“I was in Philadelphia at a prayer vigil in Olney for a murder that happened, last year, 561 murders, the worst of any major city. Shocking,” Oz said. While he was there, someone told him it was easier to find fentanyl than baby formula.

“I was stunned,” he said. “She was right. How could the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, leave people with fentanyl and no baby formula?”

He told the group it was important to knock on doors and “get people excited” about what Republican candidates represent.

“You’re talking about changing the lives of lots of people around you,” said Oz. “There are many that love this country passionately, and see it as the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, but it no longer seems to represent that,” Oz said. “My dad was an immigrant who grew up with a dirt floor. He didn’t have a [political] party. When I was 8 years old, I asked him what party are we going to be. And he looked around and he said, ‘You know what? We’re going to be Republicans…Because Republicans have better ideas.’”

“Here’s my commitment to you: We have plans that work for the economy.”


A crowd of GOP supporters gathers at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern, PA


Ciarrocchi called out President Joe Biden’s energy policy, an important topic in Pennsylvania.

“It’s amazing watching the president as gas prices go up and people are in trouble,” he said. “As he flies around to the other side of the world looking for energy. It’s like a game. It’s right under our feet.”

“So, we have the solution. We will make America energy independent,” he said.

Ciarrocchi also used the opportunity to tout the GOP’s message of hope. “We’re here today because we still believe in the

Dr. Oz shakes hands with congressional candidate Guy CiarrocchiAmerican dream, despite everything the Democratic Party has done, to crush our economy, to push parents out of schools, to make us feel less safe at home and less safe around the world.

“All of us that are running are here today for one reason, we still believe in the American dream,” he said. “We offer hope. We offer solutions. We can fix the mess they created.

“We will unleash our small businesses to revive our economy. We will support our police officers. We will fight crime. We will make sure every person feels safe to go out and live and work. We will restore the rule of law. We know that parents are the bedrock of the family and the bedrock of the community. Under our watch, when Sen. Oz and I go to Washington the Attorney General of the United States will never, ever threaten parents with using the FBI again.”

Former state Rep. Duane Milne came to support Oz and Ciarrocchi. Oz is the “best-qualified candidate,” said Milne. And Ciarrocchi brings “a tremendous world of experience” and “will make an excellent congressman.”

Republican Committeeman Dave Sommers, of West Goshen, said, “People are excited to support conservative candidates.”

Elizabeth Hyde, who traveled from Montgomery County to attend, said Oz is “a successful, smart man who has his heart in the right direction. I think he’s sincere and his values align with mine. We need more doctors in the Senate since the healthcare system and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are such a big part of the economy.”

The event was followed by a training session for Young Republicans and other volunteers who were going to hand out campaign literature.

Guy Ciarrocchi talks to resident Sandy Lee

Ciarrocchi headed out to Tredyffrin Township to knock on doors and talk to potential voters. Most of the residents he spoke with were friendly, he said.

Like Oz, he talked about the crime issue and its impact on local communities, including a carjacking at a Target in Devon, an armed robbery at Whole Foods in Tredyffrin, and a stabbing at Bertucci’s on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne. He said the CVS drug store in East Goshen was also held up.

“We should not be blasé to carjackings or a robbery or a stabbing,” he told Delaware Valley Journal.

And grab-and-go shoplifters are targeting stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart, Ciarrocchi said. Clerks are being trained when to try to stop them and when not to.

Crime is “not an academic discussion,” he said. But, he added, “This can be stopped.”


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Three Former Chester County GOP Chairs Endorse Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

Three former Chester County Republican Committee chairmen have endorsed U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester) for reelection.

Alan Novak, a political consultant, attorney Joseph “Skip” Brion, and William Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice, told the Delaware Valley Journal they support Houlahan.

“She’s done an excellent, excellent job,” Lamb said. “I met with her after she was first elected and said to her, ‘You know you’ve got to understand the district that you’re in. And if you vote in lockstep with the Democrats you’re going to have a short tenure. You need to be as bipartisan as you can.’ She recognizes this is a purple district.”

“She has a great resume, everything from United States Air Force to teaching to running a business. She’s really done everything that I think she should have done and she deserves to be re-elected,” said Lamb.

Guy Ciarrocchi

Brion said, “My wife, Glenda, and I met Congresswoman Houlahan, on her invitation, a few years ago at a roundtable discussion.  We found her to be open, honest, engaging, and interested in hearing our ideas and concerns. It was clear that she wanted to serve the people of our county. As time went on, we got to know her better and there was no question that she always had the county’s best interests in mind.”

Brion, a member of the SEPTA board, said he has been trying to get the Coatesville train station opened to help Coatesville residents and Houlahan backs him on that.

“In addition, the congresswoman is an engineer and businessperson herself, with a background in supply chains, who now advocates for our local small businesses from her seat on the Small Business Committee. Specifically, there are many local entrepreneurs whose businesses survived the pandemic because of the support the congresswoman helped to deliver. She continues to work as a bi-partisan congresswoman, and not just go along party lines.”

And Novak, who supported Houlahan in the last election, too, praised the congresswoman for her civility. Novak, who is also a former state GOP chair, said he approves of how Houlahan does her job and that she is accessible and has held nearly 70 town hall meetings.

“She works very hard behind the scenes to take a bill that has some issues and make it better,” he said. For example, she had language removed from a bill that would have hurt local banks by requiring they report $10,000 into or out of bank accounts to the IRS, he said.

He was not concerned that ProPublica listed Houlahan as voting 100 percent with Speaker Nancy Pelosi both this term and the previous term.

“I get that she votes with her leadership when she has to,” he said. But he said she votes with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), too.

“When Congress switches, and we know it will, she will be the one to try to get common sense legislation done,” said Novak.

Previously, Novak was critical of Republicans who backed Democrats, and knocked  former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer for endorsing Ed Rendell for governor saying, “There’s a reason in America that we don’t have a Benedict Arnold holiday.”

Dr. Raffi Terzian, the current Chester County Republican chairman, strongly backs Guy Ciarrocchi, Houlahan’s opponent. Ciarrocchi, the former CEO of the Chester Chamber, had also served assistant federal prosecutor.

“The new Republican Party of Chester County is forward-thinking and we are united in our support of Guy Ciarrocchi,” said Terzian. “Guy has an outstanding record of service and leadership. He is focused on the issues that are important to all Chester County residents such as escalating crime, a faltering economy, and the marginalization of parents and families. He will advocate for common-sense solutions to these problems and for policies that empower individuals, families, and businesses.

“On the other hand, Chrissy Houlahan and the radical left use highly charged rhetoric to divide us and have embraced failed policies that hurt our community. There is no doubt that Chester County residents will be best served by electing Guy Ciarrocchi to represent us in Congress,” Terzian said.

“Today, I am spending the day with small businesses in the Reading area and in Kennett Square, too, as I’ve been endorsed by NFIB—the leading organization fighting for small businesses and their employees,” Ciarrocchi said. “What a contrast as Congresswoman Houlahan highlights endorsements from political insiders, government-contract lawyers, and lobbyists.

“She’s highlighting men who used their party positions to profit from lobbying and taxpayer-funded contracts. It makes one wonder: What additional insider-deals so that these former-party-profiteers would shill for Congresswoman Houlahan, who recently called Republicans ‘diseased’ and needing to be ‘cleansed,’” he said.

For her part, Houlahan, who was first elected in 2018, said, “When I first ran, I promised to represent and serve everybody in our purple community. I am honored to have Justice Lamb, Alan, and Skip — three distinguished Republican leaders who I have enjoyed getting to know — in my corner,” said Houlahan. “While we may not agree on every issue, they know that as a veteran, businesswoman, teacher, and mom, I work tirelessly with both parties to deliver sensible solutions that make things better. With their help, we will continue to build the inclusive coalition needed to not only win this race, but also to lower costs, support small businesses, and continue to be present and deliver for everybody in our community.”

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DelVal Pols Debate Impact of Latest Inflation Hike

When news broke that the Consumer Price Index hit a higher than expected year-over-year 8.3 percent rate, the stock market tanked. That was not good news for an incumbent president and his party just weeks before the midterm election.

Even worse, the cost of groceries “rose 13.5 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1979,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The indexes for shelter, medical care, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and education were among those that increased over the month.”

President Joe Biden amplified the Democrats’ angst by hosting a White House Rose Garden celebration of the $739 billion so-called Inflation Reduction Act the same day the report hit. The celebration featured claims of fiscal success and a song by 1970s singer James Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found the legislation’s impact on inflation would be “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

So, how are Delaware Valley elected officials and their midterm opponents reacting to the latest inflation news?

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) noted the Biden administration’s positive talk about inflation being under control missed the mark.

“The ‘consensus’ was wrong. Today’s inflation report shows what American families knew to be true: prices are still rising,” Toomey tweeted. “Americans are paying significantly more for essentials than they were one year ago: 13.5 percent more for groceries, 6.2 percent more in rent, 23.8 percent more for energy.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz said, “Pennsylvanians are getting slammed by higher and higher prices everywhere they turn as the inflation rate continues to tick up. There will be no relief in sight as long as we continue electing tax and spend Democrats like Joe Biden and John Fetterman. My opponent, John Fetterman, would only make this worse by funding radical ideas like the Green New Deal while raising taxes on the middle class.”

Fetterman did not respond to a request for comment about the new inflation report.

His fellow Democrat, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), attended the White House legislative victory party, tweeting from the scene: “The #InflationReductionAct is a major victory for America’s families and for our planet–advancing the people’s interest over the special interest. Great to mark its historic passage at the White House with my friend @RepDean!”

Scanlon’s GOP opponent David Galluch did not see it that way.

“I grew up with a single mom who sacrificed to make ends meet. The current leadership in D.C. is refusing to provide real solutions at the expense of families like the one I grew up in,” Galluch said.

“While working families continue to be squeezed by inflation, President Biden and Congresswoman Scanlon take a victory lap for passing the ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ a bill that did not lower inflation or provide ‘immediate relief,'” he added.

Another DelVal Democrat facing a GOP challenger in Congress, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, has publicly complained about the Biden administration’s poor handling of inflation. She responded to the bad news by taking to Facebook and reminding voters she has her own plan.

“A little while back, I asked Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, to join me for a telephone town hall to talk about the root causes of inflation and what we can expect in the coming months,” Houlahan wrote. “We discussed the global shockwave of the pandemic and its lasting impact on our global supply chains. As one of the few members in Congress with a background in supply chain management, I used that experience to create my Inflation Action Plan.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former CEO of the Chester County Chamber who is challenging Houlahan, was unimpressed. “Inflation is the number one issue to everyone. Well, it’s the number one issue to every not named Biden or Houlahan.

“Biden and Houlahan created this mess with wasteful spending and forcing us to import energy from our enemies.  I campaign every day to offer hope, to change this—and will work even harder in Congress to use common sense to fix their mess that is crushing our family budgets.”

Houlahan posted this message on Facebook: “Yesterday’s inflation report is a reminder that inflation doesn’t go away overnight, and it also confirms what we have been feeling at home—price relief is not where it needs to be, and that’s making things harder for Pennsylvanians.

The report showed that even though gas and energy prices continue to come down, those cost savings were offset by other sectors including medical care.

Christian Nascimento, the Republican running against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said, “If we needed any reminding about the challenges our economy is facing, August’s 8.3 percent CPI increase has confirmed one thing: the Democrats’ policies are not working.

“Whether it is increased taxes, increased spending, increased hiring at the IRS, or the redistribution of student debt, Joe Biden’s policies are harming the economy, and Madeleine Dean and congressional Democrats that vote 100 percent of the time with the president are enabling this damage,” Nascimento said.

A frequent criticism of the inflation legislation is that it is actually a green energy and health care spending plan, not a strategy to cool an overheated economy. Dean appeared to confirm that view.

“Grateful to be with my brother and my son as we celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House,” she posed on Facebook. “This legislation will make our largest-ever investment in climate action; lower prescription costs, including capping Medicare insulin at $35; ensure the biggest corporations pay their fair share; and reduce our nation’s deficit.

“For our families. For our planet. For our future.”

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Will Concerns About Biden’s Age Cost DelVal Dems in November?

Polls show Americans of both parties are concerned about President Joe Biden’s ability, at age 79, to handle the responsibilities of the presidency. But will those concerns translate into less support for Democratic candidates in the Delaware Valley this November?

Concerns among voters about the president’s age and health are not new. In a national POLITICO/Morning Consult poll last November, when Biden’s approval ratings were higher than they are now, only 40 percent of voters believed he was in good health, with 46 percent calling him “mentally unfit.”

“President Biden is not awake currently; that’s obvious to anyone with eyes,” said Albert Eisenberg, principal at the political strategy firm BlueStateRed. “And when I talk to Democrats, they say, ‘This guy’s not the guy.’ Obviously, Republicans and independents think that.”

Republicans will likely use that attack against Democrats is make sure voters believe the issue isn’t just Biden and his age and deficits, but rather to paint the whole Democratic party as being responsible for the situation.

“You see swing district and swing-state Democrats outperforming Biden,” Eisenberg said about the current political landscape. “(Biden’s) going to bring these candidates down, but Republicans need to close that gap.”

Jeff Jubelirer, vice president at Bellevue Communications, says he believes those who have doubts about the president’s condition likely already disapprove of the president, meaning they are already motivated to vote for Republicans.

However, Jubelirer added that anything can make a difference in tight races.

“If it’s going to be a 1 to 2 percent race… this issue could be a 1 percent difference,” he said.

In the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz is projecting the question of the ability to govern onto his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. It comes in the wake of a stroke that felled Fetterman and has kept him off the campaign trail since just before the May 17 primary.

During a recent DVJournal podcast, National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said questions about Fetterman’s health are fair game. “I think voters have a right to know if you’re healthy or not. When people run, they should be very clear about [their] health.”

Oz is running a “basement Fetterman” campaign on social media, questioning if Fetterman has the stamina needed to represent Pennsylvania. Eisenberg said the strategy is a strong one.

“That is a really effective way to connect him to Biden,” he said. “Just putting their face next to Biden isn’t going to work.” By also creating questions about Fetterman’s ability to govern, Oz is making the strategy stronger than just questioning Biden, who, of course, isn’t his opponent.

“I think the strategy is, ‘Will he be there for you, Pennsylvania if he’s not well?’” Jubelirer said. But he added it’s important for Republican candidates to be cautious. “You don’t want to pile on his well-being.”

Eisenberg agreed. He said Oz and other Republicans can’t be perceived as “ganging up” on things Biden and other Democratic candidates cannot control.

At the same time, the silence from Delaware Valley Democrats in defending Biden and his capabilities is hard to miss. DVJournal reached out to the region’s entire Democratic congressional delegation asking if his recent COVID-19 diagnosis created any concerns about his ability to govern. All declined to respond.

In a new CNN poll, 75 percent of Democrats said they wanted someone other than Biden to be their party’s nominee in 2024. The numbers were similar in a recent NYTimes/Siena College poll. Asked why they wanted their party to make a change, about one-third of Democrats cited Biden’s age and mental acuity. It has been a repeated topic of news coverage from liberal news outlets like the Times and CNN, and many Democrats have publicly acknowledged their concerns about Biden’s age.

Meanwhile, a group of 54 House Republicans, led by former White House physician Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), sent a letter to the White House calling on Biden to take a cognitive abilities test.

The White House dismissed the letter as a stunt.

While the president’s age and sometimes embarrassing gaffes aren’t good for Democrats, Jubelirer said voters’ decisions would most likely come down to one simple sentiment.

“Most voters are like, ‘I’m pissed off. Who’s in charge?’” he said. “You’re going to get blamed.

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Houlahan Can Handle the GOP; But Can She ‘Beat’ Joe Biden?

Chrissy Houlahan isn’t one to dish–or diss.

The soft-spoken suburban Philadelphia congresswoman professed there have been numerous occasions on which she has challenged the Biden administration and Democratic leadership.

She just thinks airing those conversations publicly is unproductive.

“If I am working on behalf of the people behind the scenes to make sure I’m having those hard conversations about what’s a bridge too far and what isn’t, I don’t want to have that in the press,” she says in an interview.

When asked what she thinks of her Republican opponent, Guy Ciarrocchi–whose old employer, the Chester County Chamber, once endorsed her–she released a lengthy sigh followed by a prolonged pause.

“I’m not a kind of person who likes to, you know, talk badly about people,” she allowed.

Houlahan may not need to get mean in order to secure a third term representing southeastern Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. In the Democratic wave midterm year of 2018, she flipped the seat by 18 points. In 2020, a cycle in which Republicans surprisingly made congressional gains even as President Donald Trump was defeated, Houlahan still cruised to a win by a breezy 12 points.

Of course, 2022 has the feel of the inverse of 2018–with summer flashes of a red wave coming this fall. 

But forecasters believe that for Houlahan to lose this district that runs from Reading through most of Chester County, the bottom would have to completely fall out for Democrats. The red wave would need to morph into a blood-red tsunami.

“Chrissy Houlahan is a strong incumbent,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst for Inside Elections, a nonpartisan outfit analyzing elections. “She’s got those national security credentials, she raises good money, and the district is one that not only has been very Democratic recently but one that has moved in Democrats’ direction.”

While DecisionDeskHQ’s current model gives Republicans a 90 percent chance of taking over the House, it gives Houlahan an even higher probability–94 percent–of retaining her seat.

Ciarrocchi–pronounced ‘Sher-Rocky’–maintains he can make the race competitive by showing Houlahan to be a representative who promised to be independent of her party but has voted in lockstep with the Biden administration.

“She hasn’t been an independent voice. She’s not once challenged Joe Biden, not once challenged Nancy Pelosi, not once challenged Tom Wolf,” he said. “This race will be competitive because Chrissy Houlahan has been a 100 percent supporter of Joe Biden’s policies and Joe Biden’s policies have brought us the worst economy in nearly 50 years, made our urban areas unsafe, brought fear to the suburbs, and there’s not a sense that it’s going to get better, in fact, there’s a sense that it’s going to get worse.”

But at the moment, national Republicans appear to be most focused on taking out Reps. Susan Wild in the neighboring 7th Congressional District and Matt Cartwright in the 8th. There is also the open seat of retiring Rep. Conor Lamb in western Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District that has become a top-tier contender for a GOP pick-up.

Those trio of Pennsylvania seats all sit inside considerably more favorable turf for Republicans; whereas Houlahan’s 6th was largely untouched by redistricting, keeping intact a purple-minded constituency that is roughly evenly divided by party, with a healthy share of independents.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano could also potentially be a drag at the top of the ticket in suburban communities that have little appetite for culture warfare. Ciarrocchi said he had not decided on whether he would vote for Mastriano himself.

“I hope to be able to vote for Doug Mastriano this fall. We’ll wait and see. But I can tell you for this, there’s under no circumstance am I voting for Josh Shapiro,” he said.

Sitting inside the Philadelphia media market also makes the race pricier for outside GOP groups and Ciarrocchi, who only reported raising $181,000 during the last fundraising quarter with $193,000 cash on hand to spend.

Compare that to Houlahan’s $5.5 million war chest for the final three months of the race and the price of Ciarrocchi’s climb looks expensive especially when Republicans have so many other more enticing options on the board.

“We’ll see if they actually compete. Will American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund come in and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars here?,” asked a Democratic operative tracking the race, referring to the major outside GOP super PACs.  “I think she survives the storm no matter how bad it gets.”

A passage from the book “This Will Not Pass” includes a scene of Houlahan pushing White House officials for more bipartisanship last spring.

“We need to have the opportunity to be able to show the American people that we aren’t just working with our side of the bench, but that we’re working with everybody,” she was quoted telling Biden officials. 

But she was not enthusiastic about elaborating on that interaction.

“I don’t want to have those conversations on Twitter. I think that’s part of the problem with the country is that we are so provocative that it’s impossible for us to get along with one another,” she said. “I’m trying really hard to reset that – not only in our community – that sense of civility and decency but also in Washington, that sense of trust and respect.”

If the national environment deteriorates further for Biden and the Democrats, Houlahan may have to recalibrate her thoughts on demonstrating her independence more forcefully.

Ciarrocchi is going to attempt to make the case that her reticence is part of the problem. 

“It goes beyond the, ‘did you vote with?.’ It’s ‘did you speak out against?” he said.


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GOP Candidate Ciarrocchi Coaching Softball Team in State Championship Games

After coaching girls’ softball teams for 23 seasons, Guy Ciarrocchi was not going to let a little thing like running for Congress stop him.

This year his team, the Devon Strafford Berwyn Paoli Little League — nicknamed the Lightning — won the Southeast Region championship on July 8 and is headed to Indiana, Pa. to compete in the Little League State Championship. Their first game is against the Anthracite Little League from Carbon County on July 13.

“You know you’re in Pennsylvania when your opponent is called the Anthracite Little League,” said Ciarrocchi, a Republican running against U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks).

“It’s all good, but it’s an overwhelming daily challenge to try and juggle the social media, the fundraising and events, and what have you. It’s a lot of fun and I’m busy because there’s a lot to do. Add in a little softball in my life. It makes a busy day, but that’s okay. It’s a few hours, you step away and do something different.”


Devon Strafford Berwyn Paoli Little League


It’s a family affair. Both of Ciarrocchi’s daughters, Alexandra, 28, and Anastasia, 21, are assistant coaches. When Ciarrocchi began campaigning, he turned over the head coaching spot to Christine Amoroso and he is now the bench coach.

Laura Manion, his successor as CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry “in a world of small worlds,” is also an assistant coach, he said.

“It’s a team effort,” he said. “The kids keep us on our toes.”

Amoroso said, “I’m not into politics. This is all about a talented group of young ladies that have worked hard all year to be ready for this. All the coaches and parents are extremely proud of them and excited to head to Indiana, Pa. We hope to bring home a state title!”

Twelve kids on the team are rising 8th graders and two are rising 7th graders, Ciarrocchi said. He began coaching girls in August 2009 and has coached softball without one of his kids on the team since 2014.

“I love it,” he said. It was his daughter, Anastasia’s, idea. At 12, she wanted to play travel softball and also wanted to be a coach. He told her she could coach along with him.

“Coaching for just coaching is a thrilling experience because you can totally immerse yourself in just coaching and not have to worry about whether you’re being too kind or too mean to your own kids,” Ciarrocchi said. “I usually stay with the girls until high school, their freshman and sophomore year.”

“I would hope even if I’m elected to Congress I can come back and see them and help out from time to time,” he said. “Twelve and 13-year-old kids have no filter. They tell you the truth…They know me and we joke. And they tease me. They told they were going to buy me Life Alert because I’m getting old and if I fell in the dugout they’d need someone to come and rescue me.”

The team members played a regular-season of Little League ball and then tried out for this team. They won at the district level, which included parts of Chester and Montgomery counties. Then they won the sectionals, winning the championship of Southeast Pennsylvania, one of eight sections in the state.

“The highlights, as a team, we had not lost in 2020 (or) 2021. When we did this we lost our first district game and we had to play that team again and beat them—twice. So having lost to a team from Lower Perkiomen who were very good, we had to beat them twice and we did. Seeing that the girls could respond to their first loss and come back from that loss and win was a great thing. They really all contributed. ”

“And winning section and getting to go to the state is a big thrill,” he added.

Along with his daughters playing softball, his son, Louis played baseball before switching to football, so all his kids share his passion for sports.

And just as Ciarrocchi roots for his team, they are rooting for him.

“I think it’s great,” said Pascale Nehlsen, 13, of Malvern. “I think we need more people like Coach Guy in Washington, D.C.”

Corinne McReynolds, 13, of Wayne, said, “I think it would be super cool to have the coach of my travel softball team become a congressman. It would give the opportunity to visit the capital building, which I’ve never done before. I know my coach very well and he’d do a great job in the House of Representatives.”

Ciarrocchi said the girls will practice on the artificial turf field at the venue in Indiana, something they are not used to playing on.

“As a coach, you want to see these kids get to play other good kids,” Ciarrocchi added. “I’ve coached close to 1,000 games in my life.”

Games where the score is close are more fun.

“These games should be very competitive,” he said. “So it should be a lot of fun.”

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Guy Ciarrocchi Wins Republican Nomination in 6th Congressional District

Guy Ciarrocchi won a four-way race for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District. He will face incumbent Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) in the fall.

He was on the field Thursday afternoon coaching girls’ softball when he heard the news that the AP had called the race for him.

“I didn’t plan to run,” said Ciarrocchi. “I didn’t plan to run for office. The last two years caused me to run, drew me to run. And this election is about the contrast to, as Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Are you better off now than four years ago.’

“The question for everybody in the 6th District, are you better off now than two years ago? Or when Chrissy Houlahan took office,” he said.

“If you like $5 dollar gas, she’s your candidate. If you like lockdowns and mandates, she’s your candidate. If you like open borders, she’s your candidate. If you like defunding the police, she’s your candidate. If on the other hand, you’re like most of my neighbors, those things are bad and those ideas have led us to be less secure then I’m offering you an opportunity to bring back common sense,”  Ciarrocchi said.

On Zoom calls with the members of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, where Ciarrocchi was president and CEO, he heard his members cry during the pandemic shutdowns “because they were losing their bed and breakfasts and their comic book stores and their restaurants,” he said. “And the parents, whose kids were locked out of school and the kids, who needed not only the schooling but additional instruction and couldn’t get it. That’s who was really sad and really crying and those are the people who moved me to run.”

“And I have to tell their stories,” said Ciarrocchi. “The girls who were then 10 and now 12 who I now coach were locked out of school and not allowed on softball fields and the swing sets at the neighborhood playground were wrapped in police tape.

“And you didn’t need a Ph.D. to know what we were doing to our kids was wrong,” said Ciarrocchi. “And you didn’t need an M.B.A. from Wharton to know what we were doing to our small businesses was wrong. And (Houlahan) voted for it and stood by and let it happen.”

He went on to say Houlahan should have been moved “to this very day to stand up and say she’s sorry and what she did was wrong and she’ll fight to change it. To this very day, she’s supporting open borders. To this very day, she’s supporting keeping American energy in the ground. To this very day, she’s causing inflation.

“She would have caused more inflation, because she voted for that wasteful Build Back Better,” said Ciarrocchi. “And if it wasn’t for (Sen.) Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) we’d be another trillion dollars in debt.”

Asked to respond, Houlahan said, “Serving the good people of Chester and Berks counties is the honor of my lifetime and service I intend to continue. As an Air Force veteran, entrepreneur, teacher, and mother, I continue to meaningfully connect with and advocate for all people across our district. Our community trusts that working to rebuild the local economy, drive down the costs of everyday purchases, and ensure that our kids receive a world-class education, and to do so in a bipartisan and respectful manner, will continue to be my focus. I very much look forward to continuing to engage with every corner of our community, earn the voters’ support again, and drive solutions that tangibly improve their lives.”

A South Philadelphia native, Ciarrocchi is well known in Pennsylvania political circles for his work behind the scenes. He played a key role, for example, in the successful push earlier this year to pass ballot questions limiting the governor’s emergency powers.

Ciarrocchi, who holds degrees from St. Joseph’s University and Villanova Law, worked as a deputy attorney general. in private law practice, and was chief of staff for state Sen. Melissa Hart, U.S. Representative Jim Gerlach, and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley. He also was executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, regional director for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, and regional director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Ciarrocchi lives in Paoli with his wife, Chris. They have three grown children, Alex, Louis, and Anna.

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Republican Race For Congress in Chester County Remains Undecided

While the U.S. Senate race is still too close to call and most of the primary battles across the Delaware Valley were settled Tuesday night, the GOP race in the Sixth Congressional District remains undecided.

Former Chester County Chamber of Commerce CEO Guy Ciarrocchi appears to have won the chance to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in the Chester/Berks district. But he hadn’t declared victory as of Wednesday afternoon. Two of his opponents, Regina Mauro and Ron Vogel, have already conceded his victory.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, Chiarrocchi had 23,116 votes, Steve Fanelli has 20,890, Vogel was at 15,396 votes and Maura had 10,336.

In Bucks County, Alex Entin lost his race to incumbent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery). Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz in November.

In Montgomery County for the 4th Congressional District, GOP business executive Christian Nascimento defeated small business owner Daniel Burton Jr. Nascimento will try to unseat Democrat incumbent Democrat Rep. Madeleine Dean in the fall.

And in Delaware County, Republican David Galluch ran unopposed to challenge incumbent Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon.

In the statewide race for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Carrie DelRosso, beat nine others to become the Republican candidate for that office.

“I am honored that Pennsylvania Republicans have nominated me to carry the banner of common-sense conservatism in this year’s election,” said DelRosso. “I’m deeply grateful to my supporters and I have grown a deep respect for the others who added so much to the public dialogue in their own campaigns for lieutenant governor. We are always stronger when we have many voices in the room and I learned much from the other hopefuls and thank them for their commitment to a stronger commonwealth.”

Across the aisle, state Rep. Austin Davis prevailed over two others in the Democrats’ lieutenant governor primary. Cash-flush Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is running for governor and had no primary opponent,  campaigned for Davis, running TV ads and even fielding a billboard truck that drove around West Chester earlier this week.

In the 24th state Senate District Republican Rep. Pennycuick bested David Moyer in the primary. Pennycuick was endorsed by retiring state Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery). Pennycuick will face Democrat Jill Dennin, who defeated Emmanuel Wilkerson, in the fall. Dennin is a former substitute teacher and community volunteer.

“Thank you to everyone who voted in the primary yesterday,” Jill Dennin posted on Facebook. “My team and I are energized and there is a lot of work to be done between now and November. With so much at stake, we will need everyone’s help to reach all our voters.”

Pennycuick said, “I can’t thank the army of volunteers and supporters who backed my campaign through this primary election enough.  We enjoyed a big win yesterday. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy of the voters. It is clear people are sick of the disastrous economic policies causing runaway inflation and skyrocketing grocery bills and gas prices, and I look forward to taking my message of commonsense economic, fiscal, and education policies to the entire electorate.”

In the 8th state Senate District, incumbent Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) beat back a challenge from teacher Paul Prescod. No Republican is running in that district.

Bucks County Republican voters chose small business owner Bernie Sauer of Newtown Borough over marketing professional Jennifer Spillane in the GOP race in the 31st state House District. Sauer faces incumbent Democratic Rep. Perry Warren in the general election.

And in Delaware County, Democratic voters picked challenger Carol Kazeem, a community organizer backed by Working Families PA, over incumbent state Rep. Brian Kirkland in the 159th House District.  Kazeem will square off against Republican Ruth Moton in the fall.


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Four Republicans Vie to Take on Chester County’s Houlahan

Even though it is historically hard to unseat an incumbent, four Republicans—Guy Ciarrocchi, Steve Fanelli, Regina Mauro, and Ron Vogel– are vying to oust Delaware Valley Democrat U.S. Rep. Crissy Houlahan.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is targeting Houlahan in a midterm election where the party in charge of the White House typically loses congressional seats. And as President Joe Biden’s poll numbers plunge  — he hit a new record low in the NBC News poll released on Sunday — he could pull down Democrats in other races.

“Chrissy Houlahan has consistently traded in the best interests of Pennsylvanians in order to walk lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, causing soaring inflation and skyrocketing gas prices. As Keystone State families and workers continue to pay the price for Democrats’ costly agenda, Houlahan will pay with her seat this November,” said Rachel Lee, RNC spokesperson.

In response, Houlahan has been hard at work burnishing her bipartisan credentials. She recently appeared on Fox News, alongside the area’s only Republican Congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County, to promote action on behalf of Ukraine.

Houlahan declined to respond to requests for comment, but on her website she says she “swore an oath to defend the Constitution, not a political party. My purple, pragmatic community in Chester and Berks counties is not as worried about whether there is an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ at the end of my name – they want to see me working across the aisle to deliver on the issues that are top of mind for them: inflation, health care, immigration, education, and more.”

Voters are concerned about pocketbook issues like high inflation—up 8.3 percent in April– and record-high gasoline prices.

Registered Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans in Chester County 155,948 to 151,064, so the race could be close.

DVJournal asked all four candidates for their final pitch to GOP primary voters.

Guy Ciarrocchi

Former president and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Ciarrocchi emphasized his record.

“The issues are what we talk about at our kitchen table—soaring gas prices, inflation eating up our savings, violence in our cities and an open border–all this while the Democrats increase government’s power, quash our liberty, and make things worse,” said Ciarrocchi. “I didn’t plan to run for office; but, I’ve been preparing my whole life. A chamber president who lead the fight for small businesses and students against the mandates and lock-downs; working as a prosecutor standing with our police to fight violent crime; and, as an outspoken champion for school choice.

“The other candidates offer rhetoric and promises. I offer a record of leading and making a difference,” he added.

“I am uniquely qualified to defeat Congresswoman Houlahan—and, to be an effective member of Congress on day one, as I served as chief of staff to Congressman Jim Gerlach. I am hopeful that my neighbors will vote for me, so that I may use my lifetime of experience to fight for common-sense, conservative policies to stop the suffering and restore the promise of America,” said Ciarrocchi.

Steve Fanelli

West Chester entrepreneur Steve Fanelli’s campaign released a statement attacking his rivals:

“Steve Fanelli is the only fearless, common sense, conservative candidate who does not have the negatives and limitations of the other candidates that Chrissy Houlahan will quickly expose and easily use to her advantage to keep the 6th District seat blue.

“Steve has been involved in our community for decades, as a mentor, volunteer, and businessman. Steve gives us the only chance to beat Chrissy Houlahan in November.

“Chrissy Houlahan will quickly expose all of Guy Ciarrocchi’s flaws that would keep him from winning in November.  Incredibly, Guy announced his campaign to run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2021. After gaining little, if no, traction in the governor’s race, he abruptly quit the governor race and immediately entered the race for the 6th District on February 25, 2022, one week before the Chester County Republican Convention. This is the same Guy Ciarrocchi who was the CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce when it endorsed Houlahan for Congress over her Republican opponent. While Guy has been dabbling in Chester County politics and being photographed with Houlahan, Chester County has turned blue.

“Ron Vogel appears to be responsible for some very inappropriate social media posts. When the posts were brought to light by the Daily Local News, it got very ugly, very fast. The Chester County GOP censured him. It is posted on the RCCC Facebook page. He can’t beat Houlahan with that past.

“Regina Mauro lost the controller race in Chester County to a Democrat in the last election cycle and, based on FEC filings, has the lowest amount of fundraising capability of all the GOP candidates.  She can’t compete with Steve or Houlahan.

“If we expect to turn the 6th District red in November, vote Steve Fanelli. He is the only candidate who can beat Chrissy Houlahan and make the 6th District a great, safe place to live and work,” the statement concluded.

Businesswoman Regina Maura calls herself a “strict constitutional conservative with a backbone.”

Regina Mauro

“Pennsylvania candidates who succeed in November will determine the future of our state and our respective congressional districts. It is imperative for Republicans seeking to stop and prevent Biden and Wolf’s failed and ill-conceived policies to vote for the most competitive general election candidate on Tuesday’s primary,” Mauro said in her statement.

“As a Republican running for our 6th Congressional District seat, I don’t only possess the academic background, professional experience, and years’ worth of conservative activism to be a most effective representative, but I am the only candidate Democrats do not want Mrs. Houlahan to face in November. As a woman, a mom, an accomplished Hispanic professional, daughter of immigrants, my very existence as a proud and outspoken conservative is an inconvenient truth they do not want known. I am ready to face her, erode her support, flip the seat and go on to provoke the change our communities so desperately need,” Mauro said.

Vogel, a real estate agent, took aim at party leardership.

Ron Vogel

“Romney Republicans are rigging the primary,” Vogel said. “A couple of party bosses in Chester County have attempted to overthrow the will of the majority of the committee by removing ‘recommended’ from my name on the sample ballot. This action violates the bylaws of the party. Despite their efforts, our base and volunteers are more energized than ever, working hard seven days per week, and are ready to win this election on May 17.

“I am running because I love America. I am tired of seeing politicians make decisions that protect their career rather than the American people,” said Vogel. “I am the best candidate to beat Chrissy Houlahan because the voters want a real alternative to the status quo. I’m the one candidate who disrupts the status quo and won’t become a swamp creature. My vote will never be bought, I will always do what is right and I will always put America first,” Vogel said.

Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democrats, said they are “confident the congresswoman will be re-elected no matter who wins the Republican primary. Being an incumbent is always an advantage, but Congresswoman Houlahan’s record of service to the 6th District and bipartisanship speak for themselves.”



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