US House Races/Pennsylvania

Report by Bruce Driver from Indivisible North Boulder

Pennsylvania District 01:
Candidates are Brian Fitzpatrick (incumbent R) and Scott Wallace (D). Like all other Pennsylvania districts, this district is new in 2018.

Fitzpatrick is currently the incumbent in District 08 but is running in District 01 in 2018. He is a 44-year old lawyer who has been an FBI special agent and a U.S Attorney. He is what passes as a moderate R in the age of Trump, having voted for the tax bill, the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act, freezing federal revenues of sanctuary states and localities and amending Dodd-Frank, but also voting against the AHCA, calling for action on climate change and trying to protect ANWR against drilling.

Wallace has been Chair of the Wallace Global Fund for the last 20 years. The fund is a large, progressive funder of justice and climate change/sustainability issues around the world. He is the grandson of Henry Wallace, FDR’s initial VP. He favors “re-joining” the Paris Climate Agreement, restoring EPA’s power to regulate climate change, changing the tax system to promote renewable resources, banning assault weapons, Medicare for all, a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and reform of campaign financing. While he grew up in what is now District 01, he has lived outside the district for much of this life. He is worth at least $100 million.

Description of the district: The district is similar to old District 18 but no longer includes much of Philadelphia. Its core is Bucks County. I did not find breakdowns for the new district on urban vs. rural or ethnicity. The new district appears to be less urban and less black than old district 18. Cook rates it as 1% more Republican than the national average of districts and, before the primary, a “toss-up” this fall.

Summary: Wallace has the money to mount a strong challenge, but this may not be an unalloyed plus for him. His residence outside the district for years may also hurt, but he is a very strong progressive.

Pennsylvania District 06:
Candidates Greg MacCauley (R) and Chrissy Houlihan (D). This is an open seat in a new district. Ryan Costello (R), the present representative, is not running in 2018.

MacCaulay’s website says, “I will be an outspoken advocate of the Conservative Republican ideology.” He is a graduate of Delaware’s Widener Law School and has been a practicing tax lawyer. He is a member of the NRA, wants to repeal and replace Obamacare and says that illegal aliens should register for a work permit and pay taxes. (followed by deportation?) He seems out of touch with this more Democratic-leaning district in 2018.

Houlihan is an engineer/scientist, with degrees from Stanford and MIT, and has been a captain in the USAF Reserve. She has founded and run non-profits on childhood literacy and good business practices and taught chemistry in Philadelphia. Her issues include: (1) she believes that healthcare and education are human rights; (2) fixing, not replacing, Obamacare; (3) revitalizing public schools; (4) banning assault weapons; (5) creating a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients; (6) campaign finance reform and (7) promoting environmental protection, especially dealing with climate change. She has $1,643 million cash on hand, MacCauley $54,000.

Description of district: This mostly urban district is to the West of Philadelphia and borders Delaware and Maryland to the South. It is mostly white and quite wealthy. The area within the district voted more than 9% for Hillary over Trump. According to Cook, it is 2% more D than the average district in the nation. Cook rates this race as “likely D.” (Old district 6 voted about evenly for Hillary and Trump.) This is one of several districts where court-ordered re-districting has helped Ds.

Summary: This should be a pick-up for Ds. Houlihan looks smart and public-spirited and, so far, has much more money than her opponent.

Pennsylvania District 07:
Candidates Marty Nothstein (R) and Susan Wild (D). This is a vacant seat, Charlie Dent, a well-known Republican centrist, having just resigned from Congress.

Nothstein is a former road and track cyclist, having won an Olympic gold medal in the sprint, then turning professional. He has worked in a cycling center in the district and as a member of the Lehigh County Commission. He is a vocal Trump supporter, wants to repeal Obamacare, likes the tax bill, is a strong supporter of the 2d. Amendment, wants to halt “job-crushing” EPA regs and wants to “drain the swamp” in DC. He won his primary by a few hundred votes.

Susan Wild is a long-term attorney in Allentown and has been Allentown Solicitor. She is a George Washington Law School grad. She’s on the boards of several non-profit organizations focusing on a food bank, women and families, the Jewish Federation of Lehigh Valley and civic theatre. In response to a recent poll, she says that her three most important priorities are protecting Social Security and Medicare, promoting affordable healthcare and defending the environment. She won her primary by about 1,000 votes over a Bernie-supported pastor and a right-leaning lawyer. She is supported by Emily’s list and Tom Steyer. The two candidates appear to have roughly the same amount of money at the start of the campaign, not very much, although this will change now that the primary is over.

Description of the district: New District 07 borders New Jersey a little less than half-way up the eastern edge of Pennsylvania, but still in the Philly media market. It is largely urban and white (6% black and 4% Asian). Its population narrowly supported Hillary in 2016. (Trump won by 8 points in the former 7th district.) Cook says that the new district is 1% more Democratic than the average U.S. district, and Cook rates the race as “leaning D.” Wild is a fairly centrist D relative to her primary opponents, which should be attractive to voters used to Charlie Dent. Nothstein, as a Trumpster and to the right of Dent, seems wholly unsuited to the new district. Yet, as a local sports hero, he is likely more well-known than Wild.

Summary: Wild is a very attractive candidate for this new district, another example of how court redistricting in this state is helping Ds. In other words, this should be a pick-up for the Ds. However, she will need help to beat back what will certainly be an infusion of cash for celebrity Nothstein.

Pennsylvania District 08:
Candidates: Mark Cartwright (Incumbent D in old District 17) and John Chrin (R).

Cartwright, a practicing lawyer, is a third-term incumbent from a similar district. He is an honors grad from Hamilton College and has a law degree from Penn Law School. He voted “No” on the Farm bill, no on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection bill, yes on penalizing sanctuary sanctuary cities and states, no on the AHCA and no on the tax bill and on amendments to Dodd-Frank. He was among those members of Congress who lived on a SNAP food budget for a week in 2013. His priority issues include Vets, jobs, an all-of-the-above energy policy, and he is a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus. He appears to be a cautious, centrist D in a district whose population voted for Trump by 10% in 2016.

Chrin, a first-time political aspirant, graduated from Lehigh and Columbia Business School, was a managing director at JP Morgan Chase, taught at Lehigh and then joined his wife in her wealth management business. He is pro-life, a lifetime member of the NRA, does not support Obamacare and opposes sanctuary cities. His top priority appears to be economic growth and jobs. He believes that job-retraining and offering apprenticeships to young people are good economic policies for the district. Cartwright has about $1.6 million cash on hand and Chrin about $1 million.

Description of district: New District 08 borders New Jersey and New York in NE Pennsylvania. It includes Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Adjusting to new economic realities, its major population centers have undergone some hard times. It is a mix of older cities, suburbs and farms and is largely white. While it voted solidly for Trump in 2016 and, according to Cook, is 1% more Republican than the average U.S. district, Cook rates it as a “likely Democratic” keeper. This seems to be because Cartwright is well-known and no Bernie “radical,” while Chrin is unknown and does not even live in the district.

Summary: This is a race to be watched, since Chrin is a Trumpster and will likely be heavily supported by Republican donors nationally and locally in a Trump-supporting district.

Pennsylvania District 10:
Candidates are Scott Perry (incumbent R) and George Scott (D). Perry represents existing District 10, but new District 10 is mostly old District 04. This is Scott’s first run for political office.

Perry is a graduate of Penn State Univ. in Business Management and the U.S. Army War College. He owns a mechanical contracting business. He has had a long career in the Army National Guard, flying 44 combat missions, and is a lifetime member of the NRA. A member of the Freedom Caucus, he voted to repeal/replace Obamacare, to amend Dodd-Frank, for the tax bill and, while decrying federal spending, for the Omnibus spending bill. He supports an all-of-the-above energy policy. He seems a down-the-line Republican member of Congress in the Trump era.

Scott is a graduate of Georgetown University in International Politics. He was an active-duty Military Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years and is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in the district, taking a leave of absence for the campaign. He supports a carbon fee/dividend, seeks to bolster EPA, promote campaign finance reform, allow citizens younger than 65 to buy into Medicare and wants to strengthen Obamacare. He decries the mal-distribution of wealth in the U.S. and is a strong supporter of public education. He is the guy who tossed his automatic rifle into a bonfire in a campaign ad, and he wants to ban them. No question, he is a progressive. In April, he had $64,000 cash on hand while Perry had $426,000.

Description of district: This district is in south-central Pennsylvania. It includes Harrisburg (state capitol and relatively liberal) and York. It is mostly white. Trump won the old 4th district by 21%, but the population in new District 10 gave him only a 9% edge. Cook estimates it is 6% more Republican than the average U.S. House district. Cook rates the race as “likely R,” but SL sees it as flippable.

Summary: It would be a significant accomplishment for the Ds to pick up this seat. Scott has the kind of background that should be appealing to voters, especially in an around Harrisburg, but his outspoken position on guns may be a liability. Also, he is way behind Perry in dollars raised. He needs help.

Pennsylvania District 17:
Candidates are Conor Lamb (incumbent D in District 18) and Keith Rothfus (incumbent R in old District 12.) Lamb won a special election in March in District 18, strongly pro-Trump, but switched to the new 17th for this election. Rothfus’s old district 12 was largely absorbed into the new 17th. Confused? So are voters.

Lamb is a graduate of Penn Law School and has been been a Captain in the Marines and a federal prosecutor. His priorities include (1) fighting the opioid/heroin problem; (2) new jobs, including by building new infrastructure; (3) allowing student loans to be re-financed; (4) protecting Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid against “entitlement reform,” which he sees as just a way for Republicans to fill in for the deficits created by their tax bill; and (5) natural gas extraction. Other than expanding background checks, he does not see new gun laws as protecting against more mass shootings. He supports the Trump tariffs. As a devout Catholic, while personally opposed to abortion, he believes in separation of church and state. He supports a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. He has strong support from labor unions. He will not vote for Pelosi for Speaker. Nor will he accept money from PACs.

Rothfus is a corporate lawyer who graduated from Notre Dame Law School. He wants to repeal/replace Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood. He signed a House Resolution stating that only marriages between men and women should be legal. He voted for the tax bill and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, supports the withdrawal of the U.S from the Paris Climate Change Agreement and believes that semi-automatic weapons should be available to law-abiding citizens. He has voted with Trump 90% of the time. As of April, Lamb had $1.8 million hand, Rothfus $1.6 million.

Description of district: This district includes suburbs of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County and the more-rural/small town Beaver County, to the Ohio state line. Allegheny County is about 83% white and 14% black. Beaver County is 92% white. Allegheny County leans D, while Beaver County in recent years has leaned strongly R. Cook says the district is 3% more R than the average U.S. district, but rates this race as a “toss-up.” This district is much more favorable to Ds than the old 17th, which Lamb won last March.

Summary: Lamb’s politics are well-tuned to this district and should appeal to suburban Pittsburgh residents as well as to blue-collar and rural types in Beaver County. Rothfus is a down-the-line R in the Trump era, maybe OK in Beaver County but not so much in Allegheny. National Republicans are determined to hold this seat for Rothfus and will, no doubt, raise millions for him. Nonetheless, Lamb should win, because he is a clever and attractive politician, but he could definitely use some financial help.