The Republican primary for the open seat in Pennsylvania's Sixth Congressional District is getting crowded.

Walter Hufford of Chester County, a former energy company geologist who specializes in environmental cleanups, plans to announce his candidacy today, joining four declared candidates already in the GOP race.

Hufford, 51, said he's conservative on fiscal issues and moderate on social issues. He said he wanted to rein in government spending and push for energy security.

"I'm passionate about our country, and I'm running because I want to leave it in better shape than it's in," Hufford said yesterday.

Hufford plans to announce his bid by activating his Web site today.

The seat will be open because the incumbent, Jim Gerlach, is leaving to seek the GOP nomination for governor.

Also running are venture capitalist Steven Welch, who gave $500,000 to his own campaign through September, and State Rep. Curt Schroder of Chester County.

Other candidates are Howard Cohen of Montgomery County, who was revenue secretary under former Gov. Richard Thornburgh, and party activist Pat Sellers of Chester County, who has worked for libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul and the "tea party" constitutionalist movement.

Contact staff writer Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or tfitzgerald@phillynews.com.