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Pennsylvania - 19th District

Incumbent -- Todd R. Platts (R) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced Jan. 17, 2012)

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key

Updated May 20, 2010

The largely rural 19th, a Republican stronghold, is one of the least likely districts in Pennsylvania to stage a competitive general election contest. District voters gave 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain 56 percent, his second best showing among the 19 districts in a state that overall gave 55 percent to Democrat Barack Obama.

An open-seat race in the 19th District would have drawn a crowd of Republican primary contenders. And the possibility that five-term Republican Todd R. Platts might be moving on piqued the interest of a number of potential successor candidates.

Platts in October 2009 filed an application to be the next chief of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) - at the encouragement, he said, of a Democratic colleague, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns of New York. The Obama administration's process for vetting candidates for the position could take several months, and whoever gets the nomination will require Senate confirmation before taking office. But Platts is on the list of four finalists that was forwarded to the White House in March.

Platts nevertheless defeated primary challenger Michael Smeltzer, 70 percent to 30 percent, in the May 18 primary.

Should Platts get the GAO post, the timing of his departure would likely impact the contest to replace him.

Platts currently faces political unknown Ryan Sanders in November.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Situated west of the Susquehanna River, mostly east of the South Mountain ridge and mostly south of Harrisburg (in the neighboring 17th District), the 19th's historic landscape has a Republican-leaning constituency and major agricultural and manufacturing industries.

Located along several major highways, the district is a prime location for manufacturing and distribution centers, including depots and logistical support facilities for the Defense Department, and York County serves as the 19th's industrial hub. Residential growth, a more recent trend, also can be attributed to the district's location -- many Marylanders have moved here for lower taxes and affordable real estate. Adams, York and Cumberland counties have all grown rapidly for two decades.

Tourism also plays a major role in the district's economy. Nearly 2 million visitors each year come to see the site of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg in Adams County, now a largely fruit-growing area. Many come for the annual re-enactment of one of the Civil War's most significant battles and to see monuments, military grave sites, historic markers and the site of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center opened in 2008, and the David Wills House, where Lincoln stayed while at Gettysburg, opened as a museum on the bicentennial of the president's birth in February 2009.

John McCain won 56 percent of the district's 2008 presidential vote. Adams County gave him 59 percent, while the more populated Cumberland (shared with the 9th) and York counties each gave him 56 percent. Democrats find more strength in the city of York, where blacks and Hispanics combined make up more than half of the population, and Gettysburg, which has a large college-age population.

Major Industry

Agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, defense, tourism

Military Bases

Carlisle Barracks, 434 military, 742 civilian (2009); Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna, 296 military, 1,047 civilian (2004)


York, 43,718; Carlisle (pt.), 18,637


York served as the first U.S. capital in 1777-78 while the British occupied Philadelphia.




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