Law student drops out of Lehigh Valley congressional race ahead of filing deadline
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — A Penn State Law student called off his campaign to become the Lehigh Valley's next U.S. representative Friday, days before candidates needed to file paperwork to appear in the April primary.
Allen Issa, a Republican and former congressional aide, confirmed his departure from the race in a phone call and endorsed Maria Montero for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District.
"I interviewed them all. They're all great candidates, and I'll support whoever gets the nomination. I want to back the candidate I can see taking us all the way, and that is Maria Montero."Allen Issa, former Republican candidate for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District
"I interviewed them all," Issa said. "They're all great candidates, and I'll support whoever gets the nomination.
"I want to back the candidate I can see taking us all the way, and that is Maria Montero."
Montero now finds herself in a three-way race against state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie and Kevin Dellicker, an intelligence officer with the Air National Guard.
Montero, an Easton resident with roots in Lehigh and Carbon counties, previously worked in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.
“I am honored to have Allen’s endorsement of my campaign for Congress,” Montero said in a news release. “Allen is intelligent, hard-working, and ran a strong grassroots campaign.
"I look forward to having his support as we continue our outreach to Republican voters leading up to the April primary election.”
Issa's departure shouldn't shake up the Republican field in the highly contested congressional race. He was a late addition to the PA-7 race when he announced his candidacy in October.
And unlike the three other Republican candidates, he had little name recognition in the community.
When candidates filed their campaign finance reports this month, he had the least amount of financial resources and just one donor within the district.
Issa donated $525 to his own campaign but provided a State College address.
Montero's filings suggest she'll be more competitive.
Her latest campaign finance report showed she had nearly $60,000 at the close of 2023 and drew donations from former gubernatorial candidates Scott Wagner and Dave White.
But Dellicker and Mackenzie finished the year with more than twice as much money, much of which came from local voters.
Dellicker and Mackenzie already had filed candidate petitions with the state as of Friday afternoon, according to a state database.
Montero will need to turn in paperwork that includes the signatures of at least 1,000 registered Republicans who live in the district by Tuesday to make the April 23 primary ballot.
The remaining Republicans will face off in the GOP primary for a chance to take on Democratic incumbent Susan Wild in November.
Wild, a three-term congresswoman, is not believed to be facing any challengers from within her party.
Wild holds one of the most coveted seats in Congress.
PA-7, which represents all of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties along with a sliver of Monroe County, is a rare political toss up with near equal numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans.
Its battleground nature has made it a target for political parties and their allies. The U.S. House has been narrowly divided in recent years, so winning swing such seats has an outsized effect on national policy.