GOP Rep. Bill Shuster Narrowly Survives GOP Primary Challenge

Shuster is under fire for maintaining a romantic relationship with a top airline lobbyist.

In a surprise turn of events Tuesday evening, incumbent Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) survived a closer-than-expected GOP primary race against real estate investor Art Halverson.

Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard captain backed by the Tea Party, seized on Shuster's romantic involvement with a top airline lobbyist, citing it as evidence of "collusion" between lawmakers and special interests in Washington. He even went so far as to call the relationship "criminal," criticizing the House Ethics Committee for not opening an investigation into the matter.

As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the 15-year veteran of Congress wielded enormous influence over the airline industry. Shuster repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, stating he and the woman, a lobbyist for Airlines for America, only maintained "a private and personal relationship."

As HuffPost reported in February, however, the FAA reauthorization bill that emerged out of Shuster's committee contained a sweetheart deal for Airlines for America.

To get a sense of the magnitude of Tuesday's primary result, it's important to note that Shuster walloped Halvorson in the 2014 primary for the 9th Congressional District, 53 percent to 34 percent.

Shuster enjoyed the broad support of the GOP establishment, including from groups like the National Rifle Association, National Right To Life, and major railroad and energy figures. He also enjoyed a massive cash advantage -- raising $720,000 from Jan. 1 through April 6. Halvorson, in comparison, raised a meager $24,000 in donations and loaned $110,000 to his own campaign.

Shuster narrowly avoided becoming the second incumbent to lose his seat in the 2016 campaign cycle. Fellow scandal-plagued Pennsylvania Rep. Chaka Fattah (D), who is facing a federal corruption trial, became the first incumbent to lose his seat on Tuesday evening.



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