WASHINGTON -- Malvern businessman Mike Parrish has dropped out of the race to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), leaving Manan Trivedi with a clear path to the Democratic nomination.
Trivedi, a physician, has twice run for the seat but lost both times to Gerlach. The incumbent, however, is not running for re-election this year, an opening that Trivedi hopes will change his fortunes. He and Parrish were expected to have a primary battle for the nomination.
Instead, the race for the Chester County-based seat has now crystallized into a contest between Trivedi and Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello, who has support from the Republican establishment.
"While I was asked by the national and local leaders of our Democratic party and encouraged by YOU to run for Congress, I have come to realize that an expensive and contentious Democratic primary fight would seriously risk our party’s ability to win this seat in November to accomplish our goals," Parrish said in a news release Tuesday morning. "I am therefore suspending my campaign in order to join with Manan Trivedi to help ensure that a Democrat is elected in November."
National Democrats were excited about Parrish's credentials, and particularly his switch from the Republican to Democratic party, a move they thought would play well as a sign of Parrish's centrist credentials in a moderate district. But the first-time candidate, would have likely faced an uphill battle against Trivedi, who is well-known in the district from his two previous runs and who secured local backing from the Democratic organizations in Chester and Montgomery counties.
With long-time incumbent Gerlach retiring, Democrats have become more optimistic about their chances in his district, but it still tilts Republican and most political analysts are predicting a strong year for the GOP overall. Republicans have pointed to a special election win in Florida as a sign of their strength in the coming mid-term elections, in which the president's party typically loses seats.
"It’s pretty clear after last week’s special election in Florida that Democrats’ chances in 2014 are sinking faster than a boat without a hull. It seems like just yesterday that (Democrats were) sending out memos touting Mike Parrish’s candidacy and flying Nancy Pelosi in to fundraise for him," said Ian Prior, a spokesman for the national Republican campaign arm. "Just a few weeks later, however, Parrish has seen first-hand how difficult it is running straight into the massive headwinds caused by Obamacare. It’s certainly understandable that he would want to jump ship."
National Democrats on Tuesday, however, praised Trivedi's strengths -- which they hope can help him win after failed runs in 2010 and 2012, the latter loss coming even with President Obama atop the Democratic ticket. Democrats had already targeted the race as one of the top 35 districts where they hope to pick up seats (though it was not one of the 19 top-tier "Red to Blue" races).
“Manan Trivedi is a strong, independent advocate for Pennsylvania’s middle class and over the last few months has put together an impressive campaign," said Marc Brumer, a spokesman for the national "As a physician, Iraq war veteran, and tireless fighter for Pennsylvania families, Manan is a strong candidate who is committed to working together to find solutions that grow the middle class, create jobs, and spur the region’s economy."
Trivedi praised Parrish, a fellow veteran (Trivedi was a Navy medical officer who served in Iraq; Parrish an ex-Army aviator).
"I am truly honored to receive Mike's endorsement today. I am thankful for his commitment to our Democratic Party and I look forward to working with him to strengthen our community, our commonwealth and our country," Trivedi said in a news release.