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Chrissy Houlahan, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th District, talks at a meet-and-greet. (Credit: Chrissy Houlahan Facebook page)
Chrissy Houlahan, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 6th District, talks at a meet-and-greet. (Credit: Chrissy Houlahan Facebook page)

Democrat Chrissy Houlahan’s odds of representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District have significantly improved after Republican incumbent Ryan Costello withdrew from the race Sunday evening. Houlahan’s only fellow Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Moro, also dropped out last Friday.

Defeating Costello was arguably Houlahan’s greatest obstacle in the election. Though the district has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the past, it has elected a Republican representative consistently since 2002. But following Costello’s announcement, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race from “toss-up” to “likely Democratic.”

Rumors of Costello’s departure have followed him since February, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a new voter map that undoes Republican gerrymandering — a move that heavily impacted the state’s 6th district. And last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block the new map.

Related: Our Q&A with Chrissy Houlahan

Costello, who won the seat in his last two races, officially confirmed his withdrawal Sunday evening in an interview with MSNBC. However, he declined to acknowledge the new map as a reason for his departure. Instead, he pointed to the needs of his young family and the “very angry environment” of the contemporary political scene as the main factors influencing his decision.

Houlahan wished Costello well in a Facebook post Sunday evening, writing, “While Congressman Ryan Costello and I might have disagreed on many issues, I respect and thank him for his service to our country, Commonwealth, and community.”

His wasn’t the only recent departure from the race — Democratic candidate Moro also announced her withdrawal late last week, leaving Houlahan as the sole Democratic candidate in the upcoming May primary.

Now, Houlahan’s only remaining competition in November is Republican candidate and local tax attorney Greg McCauley.

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