WILKES-BARRE — A Democrat and a Republican have entered the race in the 11th Congressional District, the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Columbia County dairy farmer and former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Denny Wolff, a Democrat, announced his candidacy, urging voters to “send a farmer to change Washington.”
Republican Andrew Lewis, a U.S. Army combat veteran and Dauphin County business leader, also threw his hat into the ring, saying: “Washington politicians have lost their way, and both parties are to blame for a bigger government that promises everything but delivers nothing.”
In the 11th District race, Dan Meuser, of Kingston Township, and Berwick councilman Andrew Shecktor, both Republicans, have already announced for the seat. Robert Alan Howe, a Democrat from Carlisle, is also running, as is Republican state Rep. Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County.
A fifth-generation dairy farmer and avid white-tailed deer hunter, Wolff graduated from Millville High School and began his career on the same farm on which he was raised. Wolff built Pen-Col Farms into an internationally recognized company.
His business experience led to Wolff’s appointment to the World Trade Organization’s Agriculture Technical Committee during the Clinton Administration. He would later be reappointed during the Bush Administration, and then appointed by Gov. Ed Rendell as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture. As secretary, Wolff managed a $200 million budget and 600 employees.
Wolff is founder, president and chairman of Camp Victory, created after his youngest son, Nicholas, was born with a life-threatening liver disease. Camp Victory provides special-needs kids and their families the type of experiences that their health might otherwise prevent, and has served over 30,000 kids. Wolff raised his five children in Millville, where he and his wife Josey reside.
“I never thought I’d run for office, but we are never going to change Washington if we keep sending the same kind of people to represent us,” Wolff said in a press release. “When I look at the U.S. Congress, I don’t see a lot of people who understand what life is like for central Pennsylvania families. Congress could use a lot more teachers and nurses – and farmers. I’ll never forget where I came from, and the values I grew up with in my small town. In Congress, I’ll put the work ethic I learned on the farm to work for our area.”
In his news release, Lewis said 2016 was an election of great promise, but the insiders and forces of the status quo have fought to prevent the changes the American people voted to enact.
“I’m not willing to give up the fight,” Lewis said. “I’ll go to Washington to stand up to the politicians and work every day to get the power and wealth out of the capital — and return control to the people, where it belongs.”
As chief operating officer of Tradesman Building Group based in Dauphin County, Lewis leads dozens of employees and sub-contractors while overseeing the operating budget. Since assuming leadership at Tradesman, Lewis has doubled its revenue, launched two new divisions, and created new jobs in south-central Pennsylvania, the release notes.
After graduating high school – and before joining the family construction business – Lewis enlisted in the Army where he served for almost 10 years on active duty. He spent 15 months in Iraq as a scout during the troop surge from 2007-2008. He continues to serve in the Pennsylvania National Guard, drilling every month at Fort Indiantown Gap.
Andrew and wife Ranae are raising three sons: Jeffrey, Jason and Jeremy. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Thomas Edison State College, a graduate certificate in public policy from Liberty University, a master’s degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University, and a master’s of business administration from Temple University.
Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District covers Columbia, Montour, and Wyoming counties along with parts of Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Luzerne, Northumberland, and Perry.
Meuser reports $275K on hand
Candidate Meuser’s campaign announced it ended the quarter with $275,000 cash on hand after 31 days in the quarter. Meuser made an investment in his campaign of $260,000 and raised an additional $26,000 without soliciting a single contribution during the period, he said.
“I’ve spent the last decade helping GOP candidates up and down the ballot and I continued to do that this quarter,” Meuser said. “The opportunity to run for Congress was unexpected, and I kept my commitments to candidates running in important judicial elections this year as well as helping my friend Lou Barletta in his campaign for Senate.”