Chrissy Houlahan is a military and business veteran on a mission to flip a U.S. House seat to the Democrats. She says opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda drove her into the race for a U.S. House seat representing the 6th district of Pennsylvania, which has been held by Republican Rep. Ryan Costello since 2015.
The district is now considered a toss up, after the Pennsylvania Supreme court redrew the district as part of a ruling that found Republican gerrymandering. Hillary Clinton won the old district in 2016, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named it an initial target to flip in 2018. That means that Houlahan — if she wins the Democratic primary against Bob Dettore — would likely receive committee money and support, strengthening her chances. Though a newcomer to politics, her fundraising is already off to a strong start — she amassed $811,000 as of Sept. 30 and then another $417,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017. She has been endorsed by fundraising powerhouse Emily’s List.
Houlahan lives in Devon, Penn., with her husband, Bart, with whom she has two daughters, ages 22 and 24. She was raised by a Holocaust survivor father, who immigrated as a child and ultimately became a captain in the U.S. Navy. Her father’s military career meant the family moved often and, as a result, Houlahan grew up all over the country. She attended Stanford University on an ROTC scholarship, where she earned an engineering degree, and received a masters in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While Houlahan has pursued several career paths since then, service has been a common thread. She served 3 years of active duty in the Air Force reserves and 13 years of inactive duty. She joined Teach for America and taught high school chemistry in North Philadelphia, a mostly black and Puerto Rican neighborhood.
Houlahan then shifted into the world of business operations and social entrepreneurship. She became chief operating officer of AND1 Basketball, an apparel and footwear brand. And she was founding COO of B-Lab, a nonprofit that promotes B corporations, which are for-profit companies that also pursue social goals. She then served as president, COO and financial chief of Springboard Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on improving early childhood literacy.
This congressional campaign is Houlahan’s first venture into politics. In a message on her website, she says she’s running to take on Trump, change a Congress that is “complicit” and remove a congressman who “is contributing to this destruction.” Her policy priorities include improving the public school system, providing affordable healthcare and building a healthy, modern economy that creates quality jobs.
“I fear the American Dream that I benefited from is in danger,” she says. “I never thought I would run for elected office, but service does not stop when you leave the Armed Forces.”
The Latest on the Campaign
March 15, 2018:
Joe Biden Gives His Support to Houlahan
February 21, 2018:
A new voter map, drawn by the State Supreme Court to undo Republican gerrymandering, is seen to lift Democrats’ electoral chances in 2018, especially those of Chrissy Houlahan. Read the full story.
February 7, 2018:
Pennsylvania Democrat Chrissy Houlahan doesn’t know which congressional district she is running to represent anymore. Her confusion stems from a recent State Supreme Court ruling that voided Pennsylvania’s district map due to unconstitutional gerrymandering. Read the full story.