Incumbent's retirement leaves open field in Pa.'s 6th District

Representative Jim Gerlach's retirement announcement in January has left a highly contested seat up for grabs in this year's elections.

Three candidates have declared their campaigns following Tuesday's candidacy filing deadline for the two major parties.

Gerlach, a moderate Republican, has presided over Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District since being elected in 2002.

The district itself has a moderate yet slight-right leaning R+1 rating on the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

It includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon, and Montgomery counties.

In the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney carried the district by three points, but incumbent Barack Obama previously won it in 2008, leaving Democrats itching to make a play on the new vacancy.

Representing the incumbent's party is Ryan Costello, current chairman of the Chester County Commissioner.

Costello is running on a platform that opposes "bigger government, more regulation and more taxes," according to an interview on a Philadelphia talk radio show. He identifies himself as a fiscal conservative through and through.

Opposing him are Democratic candidates Manan Trivedi and Mike Parrish.

Manan Trivedi is an Iraq War veteran who served as a battle surgeon for the Marine Corps, where he was awarded several honors.

He has twice won the nomination for the 6th Congressional District in 2010 and 2012, but was defeated by Gerlach both times.

Trivedi has a socially liberal ideology supporting women's reproductive rights, same-sex marriage and the regulation of greenhouse gases.

Mike Parrish was an Army Aviator for the United States before leaving active duty to join the private sector.

He decided to run upon learning that the government shutdown of 2013 had caused some military families to be denied access to life benefits.

Parrish's campaign focuses on investing in education, fixing aging infrastructure and balancing the budget.

Pennsylvania primary elections will be held May 20.

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