25-year-old independent congressional candidate secures ballot spot in Pennsylvania

July 30, 2014

A 25-year-old independent candidate seeking to unseat a U.S. House Republican incumbent in Pennsylvania has successfully secured a spot on the November ballot -- a notable achievement in a state known for making it difficult for independents to run.


Nick Troiano of Milford, Pa., is running as an independent candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional district. Troiano is pictured here taking information from Ken Fisher, of Montgomery Borough, Pa. (Jonathan W. Cohen/For The Washington Post)

Nick Troiano, who was profiled by The Washington Post in May, will face Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Democrat Scott Brion in the fall.

A self-described "civic entrepreneur," Troiano quit his job with a Washington nonprofit group last year, renounced his GOP voter registration and is now running for Congress as an independent. It is a long-shot campaign against a two-term incumbent. But as The Post reported, it's also indicative of polling trends showing  that young people between ages 18 and 33, the millennial generation, are less attached to traditional institutions such as political parties and organized religion.

In addition to supporters in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District, Troiano is backed by several veterans of Washington fiscal debates, including former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired the 2010 Fiscal Commission and David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general, who see his candidacy as an opportunity to take a principled stand on the root of the nation's budgetary woes.

Troiano has spent the last several months traveling the district collecting signatures. In a twist, state law permits independent congressional candidates to collect signatures only from voters who live in the candidate's home county, meaning that Troiano had to recruit an army of 40 volunteers to canvass for signatures in the district's other counties.

On Wednesday, Troiano traveled to the state capital of Harrisburg and submitted 7,053 signatures to the Board of Elections, according to campaign aides. Pennsylvania law required him to collect at least 3,592 signatures by Aug. 1, far more than is required by Democratic or Republican candidates. Once certified, campaign aides said, Troiano will be the only independent congressional candidate on the ballot in the Keystone State this November.

Despite the ballot support, Troiano raised just $85,408 in the first half of 2014, far behind the $777,008 raised by Marino in the same period. There has been no public polling in the race.

RELATED: Why would 24-year old Nick Troiano want to run for Congress?

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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