ENOLA, Pa. (WHTM) – From his days as a Cumberland Valley High School Eagle to his career as a Philadelphia Eagle, Jon Ritchie was always successful in the football arena. He hoped that would translate to the political arena when he announced his intentions on ABC27.
“I am announcing that I am running for state senator,” Ritchie said in a live shot from the CV football field. He hoped to replace retiring Senator Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York), who recruited him for the job.
But the ensuing campaign may have been a bit too rough and tumble, even for a football player. The bruising, four-way Republican primary had more than its share of negativity, much of it directed at Ritchie.
When the votes were tallied on April 26, Jon came up short. Representative Mike Regan (R-York) was the winner.
It was a rare hometown defeat for Ritchie and clearly painful.
“I’m sorry,” Ritchie said to disappointed supporters that night holding back tears. “We didn’t make it.”
Four months later, there’s healing as we chat in his East Pennsboro home. Ritchie was reflective.
“I think it was a real growing experience,” Ritchie said. “I think it was extremely difficult for my family and I didn’t anticipate that part.”
Ritchie says he hated the fundraising part of the campaign and never got comfortable asking family and friends for money. He said he was overwhelmed by the enormous support he got from volunteers and a tireless team. He also sees the personal growth.
“The surreal aspect of putting yourself out there for everyone to weigh in on, putting yourself out there, outside your comfort zone, striving to serve others in your community,” he said.
Ritchie says he’s weighing several sports broadcasting opportunities in both radio and television. He says he looks forward to the freedom of the microphone.
“In the political arena, there are times you have to hold your tongue for the greater good,” Ritchie said with a smile. “That’s not necessarily the case in sports.”
But Ritchie is holding his tongue about a race that clearly upset him. He won’t point fingers, burn bridges, or be accused of sour grapes. But he did say this:
“I worry about where we sit as a state and in the General Assembly. I think things need to change and I want to be a catalyst for change,” he said. “Now, it wasn’t in the cards. I’m not able to do that.”
Might we see Jon Ritchie dabble in politics in the future?
“I’m not gonna rule that out,” he said.
On Wednesday, Ritchie did rule out the possibility that he’d run against Regan in November as a write-in Democrat. He got 1,406 write-in votes and could have appeared on the ballot. He said he thought about it because he believes voters deserve a real choice. But he had promised not to run as a Democrat and didn’t want to go back on his word.
“Never through the process did I think I was the guy to give them a democratic choice,” he said. “I don’t think that’s quite fair, a Republican running as a Democrat doesn’t seem right to me. It would have been extremely difficult again on my family.”