Tanner Rouse, a Democrat and Philadelphia assistant district attorney, is reportedly gearing up for a run against incumbent Republican state Sen. Tom McGarrigle in 2018.
The son of legendary developer Willard Rouse III, Tanner Rouse is a 33-year-old Fordham law graduate who grew up in the Phoenixville area. He has worked for the District Attorney’s Office since 2010, most recently serving as a homicide prosecutor.
Reached by phone, Rouse declined to comment, citing his work at the DAO, where staff members are nominally apolitical. But sources close to the attorney said he would resign shortly and relocate his family to Upper Providence Township – in the heart of McGarrigle’s district. A formal announcement will follow the November election.
Willard Rouse III was the founder of Liberty Property Trust. Best known for constructing One and Two Liberty Place, Philadelphia’s first skyscrapers to exceed the “gentlemen’s agreement” that no building in the city would exceed the height of the statue of William Penn atop City Hall, the firm continues to control a portfolio worth billions. Although he has no direct involvement in its business operations, Tanner Rouse holds shares in the company.
His expected candidacy comes at a time when state Democratic strategists, marginalized in Harrisburg and praying for a “wave” election in 2018, have been hungrily eyeing areas like McGarrigle’s 26th District, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The state senator won office in 2014 by 4 percent of the vote in a district that has continued to trend blue.
"We are excited about a number of pick-up opportunities across the state next year. One, in particular, is Senate District 26, where we have an unpopular first-term Republican representing a district that is trending more and more Democratic," said David Marshall of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.
But McGarrigle, who owns an automotive shop, also has deep roots in the area – serving multiple terms as Springfield Township commissioner and on the County Council.
Springfield Republican Party Chairman Mike Puppio described McGarrigle’s 2014 victory over Democrat John Kane as a small business owner beating an opponent flush with union money.
He said the senator had “voted his district and kept his campaign promises,” painting Democrats’ willingness to look out of district for contenders was a sign of desperation.
“A 33-year-old Philadelphia lawyer who doesn't even live in the district would seem to lack the overall life experience that Tom brings to his communities in Chester and Delaware County,” Puppio said. “I would think that the Dems should have learned that analytic trends are not the answers to elections.”