“The state Supreme Court intended to make my district more difficult for me,” Costello told a local CBS affiliate on Monday. “It was a political decision.”
Had Costello remained on the ballot, he would have faced Greg McCauley, a tax attorney and first-time candidate who began running for a different district in February and jumped into the 6th after the new maps were drawn. And if Costello had received more votes than the challenger, Republicans in the 6th District could have held a convention to pick a new nominee — though they still preferred to run Costello.
“I am confident that had he remained in the race, Congressman Costello would have won reelection,” said Thomas Donohue, executive director of the Chester County Republican Committee. “In the face of a hostile and highly charged political environment and daily attacks from the left, Congressman Costello made his decision based on his belief that this is in the best interests of his family.”
McCauley did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but national Democrats have begun to see the race as a likely pickup. Democratic nominee Chrissy Houlahan has raised $1.2 million for her race; McCauley has not yet filed a campaign fundraising report. On Sunday, the Cook Political Report moved the race from the “toss-up” column to “likely Democratic.”
But Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the party still planned to play in the race.
“Chrissy Houlahan would be a terrible representative for the 6th district,” said Hunt.
Democrats got some more favorable Pennsylvania news on Tuesday, when Beth Tarasi, an attorney running a liberal-leaning campaign in the 17th district, suspended her campaign. Rep.-elect Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who announced his own bid for the district after winning a special election for the soon-to-be-redrawn 18th district, now faces just one challenger on the May 15 ballot, largely clearing his path to the nomination.
“Although I am disappointed that in an election cycle where we’ve seen so much enthusiasm for female candidates across the country, we were not able to translate that to electing a woman for Congress in this district for the first time in more than a decade,” Tarasi said on Tuesday. “The most important thing is that we give [Rep. Keith] Rothfus [R-Pa.] a retirement party this November and put the new PA-17 in the blue column. While I will no longer be a candidate myself, I look forward to continuing the fight.”
But the party was dealt a small setback in the 10th district on Tuesday, after candidate Christina Hartman suspended her campaign. Hartman, who’d been backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a 2016 race, had filed to run in a new seat that voted for Trump over Clinton by 9 points. After rival candidate George Scott challenged her petitions, Hartman quit.