U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican whose district includes Franklin County, announced Tuesday he is not seeking re-election.

Art Halvorson of Manns Choice, a Coast Guard retiree who challenged Shuster three times since 2014, has announced his candidacy for the seat.

Shuster’s decision

Bill Shuster has represented Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District for 17 years, filling the seat held by his father, Bud, from 1973 to 2001.

Shuster is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and said he wants to concentrate on an infrastructure bill.

He released this statement:

“As we say goodbye to 2017 and greet 2018 with hope and optimism, I want to thank the people of the 9th Congressional District for their support and wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2018.

“It has been one of my life’s greatest honors to serve and represent the citizens of the 9th District for 17 years. It has also been a tremendous privilege to have been selected by my congressional colleagues to be chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the last five years. I am proud of the legislation the committee has passed into law, most with bipartisan votes. This is my final year as chairman, and we have much still to do. 

“As I look forward to the future, I have had a lot to contemplate as to how to best serve my constituents and the American people over the next year. With much deliberation, consultation with my family and prayer over the last several weeks, I have decided not to seek election for a 10th term. It was a difficult decision because of my love of this nation and the people I serve. Rather than focusing on a re-election campaign, I thought it wiser to spend my last year as chairman focusing 100 percent on working with President Trump and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in both chambers to pass a much-needed infrastructure bill to rebuild America. 

“So it is with a happy heart and a sense of accomplishment that I say this will be my final year in the U.S. Congress.  

“I want to again thank the citizens of the 9th District for putting their faith in me. I want to thank my House colleagues for putting their trust in me by selecting me as chairman. I want to express my deep appreciation for the hard work my staff has put in over the years. To my friends, I am grateful for your loyal support. Most of all, my love and deep affection to my entire family, especially my daughter Ali and my son Garrett, for their unconditional love, patience and guidance over the years.  

“May God bless the people of the 9th Congressional District and the United States of America. Thank you!”

Halvorson’s candidacy

Halvorson first ran against Shuster in the 2014 Republican primary and then came within about 1,000 votes in the 2016 primary.

Shuster earned the nomination in the 2016 primary 48,686 to 47,677, but Franklin County Republicans favored Halvorson 13,188 to 12,807. Halvorson gained enough Democratic write-ins in the primary to earn a spot in the November general election, which Shuster won with about 63 percent of the vote.

Halvorson is committed to the conservative-reform revolution that swept President Donald Trump into the White House last year. He says the need is urgent to support Trump’s efforts to clean up Washington, D.C., and break the cartel of lobbyists and career politicians that still controls Congress.

“I intend to complete my mission to bring conservative principles back into the heart of American governance,” Halvorson said. “America has a golden opportunity to reclaim its greatness, but President Trump urgently needs other outsiders like him to enter Congress and help him.”

Halvorson received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and was recommended by the pro-life group LIFEPAC.  His “Rescue America” platform includes: term limits on Congress, defunding and repealing Obama Care, securing the borders, defunding Planned Parenthood, the Balanced Budget Amendment and restructuring “free-trade” deals to include fair-trade protections for America’s steel, coal, auto, rail, timber and manufacturing sectors.

Halvorson said polls shows he has high, favorable name identification to go along with proven fundraising ability and a legion of grassroots volunteers known as “Art’s Army.”

He said he would serve under a self-imposed term limit of six years, and he will refuse the congressional pension.

“I will serve as a citizen-legislator so that I can fight fearlessly for the conservative principles America was built on,” Halvorson said.

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 15.