GOP Rep. Tom Marino successfully fended off a primary challenge from Doug McLinko, a county commissioner, to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th district, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Marino will now face stiff competition from the Democrat Party in the general election. Though Marino has the advantage of being the incumbent, he has been hit heavily over opioid legislation he introduced as a lawmaker.
The race to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th district has focused largely on the opioid epidemic and Marino’s congressional action to address the crisis. The sitting congressman has been hit by both sides for introducing a bill in 2014 that curtailed the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to reign in production and distribution of opioids. (RELATED: ‘Sold Out’: Congressional Candidates Call Out Politicians For Taking Big Pharma Cash)
Marino now says his bill went too far, but the admission did not stop a steady flow of criticism.
The legislation is “a big reason why I chose to run,” Democrat challenger Judy Herschel said at a campaign event in May. Herschel is a counselor specializing in drug and alcohol problems.
Marino “sold out his office to the drug companies,” McLinko said. The county commissioner believes the opioid crisis is one of the top three issues, along with federal spending and jobs, affecting Pennsylvania.
Marino currently represents Pennsylvania’s 10th district. On Feb. 5, the Supreme Court found the state’s congressional districts unconstitutionally favored Republicans. The districts have since been re-drawn, moving Marino’s seat to the 12th. Many Pennsylvania congressional seats are now more competitive because of the redistricting and the new map may cut into the advantage incumbent Republicans have over Democrat challengers.
Democrats are relying on a strong showing in Pennsylvania to break the Republican majority in the House. Democrats have a chance at flipping five seats in the state — more than a fifth of the 23 total Democrats need to pick up in order to gain a majority in the chamber and wreak havoc on the implementation of President Donald Trump’s agenda.
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