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Outside GOP group goes in big for Shuster

The transportation committee chairman is trying to fend off a stiff primary challenge.

JAKE SHERMAN AND ANNA PALMER
Politico
APRIL 18, 2016

A leading conservative group is spending $200,000 over the next week to help Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) beat back a vigorous primary challenge.

The American Action Network says it will spend nearly $150,000 on a TV ad in Shuster's western Pennsylvania district. In addition, it's paying for digital advertisements and get-out-the-vote phone calls. The ad touts Shuster's conservative bona fides, and like the group's other ads this cycle, does not mention that Shuster is the incumbent.

A typical voter will see the AAN ad at least 10 times before the April 24 primary, based on the group's spending level.

Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is facing a vigorous challenge from tea-party backed candidate Art Halvorson. Shuster is clearly taking the race seriously. He has spent $500,000 on TV ads and debated Halvorson on Saturday. Shuster has $1.3 million in the bank, compared to Halvorson's paltry $31,000.

AAN polled the race in February and again two weeks ago, and both surveys showed Shuster above 50 percent, the group said. But Donald Trump is expected to do well in Shuster's district, which could help boost Halvorson's support.

"We did polling in this district and much like the previous primaries we did polling in, Bill Shuster is in strong position to be re-elected," said Mike Shields, the president of the American Action Network. "We want to make sure. And so that's why we are going in, to be cautious. We want to ensure we can put him over the top and ensure that he is safe."

Shuster is a mainstay in the district. He has held the seat since 2001, and his father represented the area from 1973 to 2001. But Halvorson is trying to seize on Shuster's romantic relationship with Shelley Rubino, a top lobbyist for Airlines for America, the leading trade group representing U.S. airlines.

As chairman of the transportation committee, Shuster has direct oversight over aviation policy. At Saturday's debate, Halvorson blasted Shuster for "cavorting" with a lobbyist who attempts to influence his committee. Shuster has touted the infrastructure projects he has helped bring to the district, while attempting to portray Halvorson as a carpetbagger.

espite the topsy -turvy political climate, not a single incumbent has lost a primary challenge this year. AAN or its super PAC affiliate, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has spent money on behalf of two other Republican lawmakers this cycle: Kevin Brady in Texas and John Shimkus in Illinois.

Read the original story at Politico.