Bill Shuster inherited PA's 9th congressional district from his father in 2002. In most election cycles, he runs unopposed as the district is mostly Republican.

This primary season he won the Republican nomination over Art Halvorson by only 1009 votes. Halvorson, however, also received 1069 write-in votes for the Democratic ticket. Now, Halvorson has accepted the Democratic nomination against Shuster despite the fact that Art is more conservative and running as such.

Their names are the only ones on the ballot for that congressional district.

I want to know if there is precedent for this kind of race and whether it has ever worked.

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    Fascinating. There have been plenty of situations in which a candidate defeated in a primary goes on to run as an independent (e.g., Charlie Crist), but I can't recall any where the loser of one primary has effectively hijacked the other party's nomination. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 17:58
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    @MichaelSeifert my experience too. But googling it comes up with too many irrelevant results. No news articles: Hillary doesn't actually count as a Republican running as a Democrat.
    – kaine
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 18:22
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    This isn't an answer since you asked about Congress specifically, but in 1872, the Democratic Party nominated a Republican, Horace Greeley, as their presidential candidate. A breakaway group of Republicans that didn't like incumbent president Ulysses S. Grant had organized themselves into a third party called the Liberal Republican Party and nominated Greeley. The Democrats decided to support the Liberal Republican ticket instead of nominating a candidate of their own. (Greeley lost anyway.)
    – DLosc
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


This doesn't seem to have happened before as even Halvorson described it as "unique" and "unprecedented".

However, I did find a scenario where a candidate won both the Democratic and Republican primaries. Peter Welch accepted both nominations and is on the ballot for US House election in Vermont 2016 for both parties. This article by Politico described how it happened.

Another scenario is that the incumbent candidate lost the primary, registered as a write-in candidate for the election and was reelected. Lisa Murkowski ran for a second term for US Senator for Alaska in 2010 but lost the Republican Party nomination. She then ran as a write-in candidate and was elected.

As stated, there are quite a few instances where candidates switched to being an independent after losing Democratic/ Republican primaries, but accepting the other party's nomination is unprecedented as far as I know.

  • Obvious it is possible someone else will find an example so I will not accept until the very end of the deadline.
    – kaine
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 14:20
  • @kaine Sure, I thought it was a very interesting question and looked at recent election records but I didn't seem to find any
    – Panda
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 14:24

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