Ritchie withdraws, Democrats looking for Senate candidate

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Beneath a stairwell at the Cumberland County Democratic Party headquarters, there’s a stack of “Jon Ritchie for Senate” yard signs.

They will not be deployed on lawns in the 31st senatorial district this fall.

Ritchie officially withdrew his name from the ballot Wednesday by filing paperwork with the Department of State. Ritchie could’ve run as a Democrat in the November election against Representative Mike Regan, who beat him in April’s Republican primary.

The thought of Ritchie running as a Democrat was certainly intriguing to some in that party.

“I think there was a chance, he had a lot of name recognition,” said Stephanie Christ, Chair of the Cumberland County Democratic Party. “He was popular in Cumberland County. He’s a hometown kind of guy and everybody knows him, so it might have worked.”

Christ quickly notes that the party never officially endorsed Ritchie because it cannot endorse Republicans. But 1,406 Democrats did write in Ritchie’s name, thinking he would be a formidable foe in a general election.

But during a Republican primary debate that I moderated, Ritchie was directly asked if he would run as a Democrat if he secured enough write-in votes.

He chuckled and then said simply, “no.” The audience applauded that answer.

So, what now for Democrats?

The party must submit a new name to the state by August 25. The district is roughly two-thirds Cumberland County and one-third York County. Committee members from both counties will decide on the candidate and they are currently accepting recommendations. They will decide on a timeline and process for selection in the next day or so.

“Yes, it would be great if it was a Cumberland County person,” Christ admits. “That would be fantastic. But I’m more interested in a candidate that can present a serious challenge and win. I know there’s a good candidate out there. We just need to find him or her.”

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