The first flurry of references came with Bill Shuster's 2001 election to Congress.
"Son follows father to Congress"; "The younger Shuster replaced his dad"; "If you compare him to his dad ..."
With Shuster's selection Wednesday to head the U.S. House's influential transportation committee - the same committee his father headed for six years - the inevitable comparisons returned, with local and national news outlets noting the committee's family history.
But neither Shuster has spent much time publicly discussing the shared father-son connection since the announcement.
"I'm really thrilled and I'm proud of him," Bud Shuster, the father, said hurriedly Friday. "He's accomplished this ... in half the time it took me."
The elder Shuster declined to comment further.
Bill Shuster has come into his own after more than 11 years in the House of Representatives, and simple comparisons don't do him justice, former state senator and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Robert C. Jubelirer said Friday.
He's respected on his own merits among Congressional Republicans, Jubelirer said - Bill Shuster jumped eight more senior representatives to head the committee, a move he recognized as a high honor Wednesday.
In the 1990s, Bud Shuster had to wait his turn for the job to open, Jubelirer said.
Asked whether the younger Shuster could bring about a project to compete with his father's Interstate 99, Jubelirer dismissed the notion.
"You used the word he wouldn't, and that's how will he 'compete.' He's not going to compete with his father," Jubelirer said.
"He can't compete at all. He's his own man," he added. "He will be judged on his own record. People talk about his father - it's far beyond that."
Jubelirer said he can relate: In 1974, when he first ran for state Senate in the Altoona-based 30th District, his father - a prominent Blair County judge - gave him much-needed name recognition.
"I don't think I'd have gotten elected" without that connection, he said. "My father said: 'I'm giving you one thing, and one thing only, and it's a good name. You better take care of it.'"
Now, with his son Jeff, a well-known Philadelphia public relations strategist, Jubelirer said he finds himself in Bud Shuster's position: the go-to comparison in the public eye.
"Every time I see [Jeff's] name in the paper, he gets the same thing: 'Son of...' But he does his own thing, and I can't do what he does. He has established his own record," Jubelirer said.
Nevertheless, Bill Shuster acknowledged his parental influence in a conference call hours after he received the committee chairmanship.
"I obviously thought about my father," he said. "He's my father and the great thing about that is, I can call him anytime to ask advice. The other side of that coin is, sometimes he'll call me up and tell me the things I did wrong."
But he didn't address the father-son connection himself - instead, the topic was broached repeatedly by reporters, who pressed him to elaborate on his feelings of familial pride after an initially brief response.
The younger Shuster can, and likely will, carve out his own niche in the transportation committee, Jubelirer said. Times have changed, and with across-the-aisle votes harder to gather, his political savvy will be more important than his father's name.
"The days of being compared as Bud's son - those days are over," Jubelirer said. "This is Bill Shuster's time."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.