Women Big Winners in PA (May 16)

Update 271 – Women Big Winners in PA
Voters Focused on Health Costs, not Tax Cuts

Democrats in Pennsylvania came away from yesterday’s primary elections confident of gaining at least five U.S. House seats in November.  That would move the Commonwealth’s delegation from a GOP 13-5 advantage into a 10-8 Democratic majority. The delegation will likely include four women, up from none currently.

Below we drill down into the flippable races in PA and the other states voting yesterday — Idaho, Nebraska, and Oregon with a view to economic policy issues and candidates to watch in the general.




PA-17: Rep. Lamb (D) v. Rep. Rothfus (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 49/Clinton 47
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 52/Obama 47
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: R+3

Yesterday, the newly-created PA-17 held uncontested primaries to set up a general election race between Rep. Connor Lamb and Rep. Keith Rothfus.  The result of Pennsylvania’s recently redrawn district lines, this clash of incumbents gives Democrats a realistic opportunity to add a pickup.

While the race is technically “lean Republican,” Rep. Lamb lines up well against Rep. Rothfus. Relative to the R+11 Cook PVI that Lamb overcame in his March PA-18 victory, PA-17’s R+3 rating will feel like friendly territory, especially given Lamb’s opposition to the conservative Rothfus, a three-term Trump Republican from PA-12 who is expected to struggle in the more moderate district.  Lamb will use a pragmatic approach similar to his last campaign, focusing on infrastructure spending, job training, protecting medicare and social security, and strengthening unions.

PA-07: Wild (D) v. Nothstein (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 57/Trump 38
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 56/Romney 42
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+7

With 33 percent of the vote, Allentown attorney Susan Wild won the Democratic Primary in the Lehigh Valley, where the moderate Republican Rep. Dent is retiring.  She defeated an anti-immigrant, anti-choice, Trump sympathizer John Morganelli, the district attorney of Northampton County. Wild’s campaign is centered around protecting medicare and social security, strengthening union bargaining power, and investing in job training programs.  She also advocates for the defense of the Earned Income Tax Credit and promotes investing in rural infrastructure development.

Her win signifies a victory over the old guard where conservative Democrats are still active. Backed by Emily’s List, Wild would be the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley in Congress.  Her opponent in November will be former Olympian Marty Nothstein, who narrowly won his nomination on a conventional GOP platform of border security, repealing obamacare, and protecting gun rights.  The general election will be hotly contested in this purple district, a bellwether for an impending progressive wave.


PA-01: Wallace (D) v. Rep. Fitzpatrick (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 49/Clinton 47
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 50/Obama 48
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: R+1

Scott Wallace, a philanthropist, public interest lawyer, and one-time capitol hill staffer, will face incumbent Republican Rep. Fitzpatrick in PA-01.  He is a descendant of Henry Wallace, an architect of Social Security as FDR’s trusted cabinet member and Vice President. Scott Wallace is campaigning to strengthen the program his grandfather designed, and is also promoting a serious agenda to revitalize the nation’s community colleges and vocational programs.

Unseating a Republican incumbent in Bucks county will not be easy, but this is the year to do it.  Wallace has substantial campaign funds and runs in a district that went blue from 2007 to 2011.


PA-06: Houlihan (D) v. McCauley (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 52/Trump 43
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 51/Obama 48
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+2

Chrissy Houlihan, an Air Force veteran with business experience as the COO of a popular footwear and apparel company, will face off against a little-known Republican attorney in a new district whose precincts heavily favored Clinton against Trump in 2016.  While the district is close on the Cook PVI scale, most expect it to go the Democrats’ way in a wave year. Houlihan is campaigning on giving workers a living wage, increasing worker bargaining power, and closing the gender pay gap.


PA-04: Dean (D) v. David (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 57/Trump 38
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 56/Romney 42
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+7

State Rep. Madeleine Dean defeated both her primary opponents convincingly to take the Democratic nomination in this brand new, “lean D” district.  Dean would be one of several women to take office in a state that is currently the largest to send an all-male delegation to the US House. Dean is campaigning on infrastructure modernization, increasing the bargaining power of organized labor, and repairing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to increase support for low and middle-income workers and increase taxes on the richest.


PA-05: Scanlon (D) v. Kim (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Clinton 62/Trump 34
• 2012 Pres. Election: Obama 63/Romney 35
• 2016 House: *District Lines Changed
• Cook PVI: D+13

Attorney Mary Gay Scanlon emerged from a field of ten Democratic candidates to easily win the nomination.  A nonprofit lawyer, Scanlon is poised to flip this redistricted seat in the Delaware County suburbs just southwest of Philadelphia.  Scanlon is likely to turn to education reform when approaching long term solutions to economic issues. She has particularly emphasized student loan reform and debt relief and making community college and public university attendance free for families earning less than $150,000.

NE-02: Eastman (D) v. Bacon (R)

• 2016 Pres. Election: Trump 48/Clinton 46
• 2012 Pres. Election: Romney 53/Obama 46
• 2016 House: Bacon (R) 49/Ashford (D) 48
• Cook PVI: R+2

One of the biggest upsets of the primary season thus far came out of the Cornhusker State as Kara Eastman, an Omaha nonprofit president, beat out former Rep. Brad Ashford.  In a near three point victory, NE-02 Democrats narrowly nominated Eastman to take on incumbent Rep. Don Bacon, a Trumpian Republican who has voted with the president 97 percent of the time.  Although many saw Ashford as the more viable candidate, don’t count Eastman out in the general election, NE-02 is still amongst the most flippable districts this cycle and is a key district to win if Democrats hope to take back the house.

Eastman advocates Medicare-for-all as her main policy platform, but also relies on strong progressive economic policy ideas.  She supports raising the minimum wage, tax reform that raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and raising the taxable maximum on social security.
All’s Quiet on the Western Front:

Two western states – Idaho and Oregon – also held primary contests yesterday.  In Oregon, all five incumbents won their primaries easily and are expected to cruise to victory in the general election.  In Idaho’s first district, Christina McNeil will face off against Russ Fulcher in a seat that former Rep. Raúl Labrador vacated to (unsuccessfully) run for governor.  In ID-02, incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson will face Democrat Aaron Swisher.  As in Oregon, neither race is expected to be competitive.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *