Courthouse News Voter Guide: Pennsylvania Midterms

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Armed with a cleaner version of the misshapen map that allowed Republicans to pick up 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 seats in Congress, Democrats are poised to claim back five at midterm elections.

The election in November will be the first test of the map produced by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled in January that the jagged district lines drawn by Congress in 2011 were gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

In a state where its voters outnumber those of the GOP 5:4, the Democratic Party has a sunny forecast from pollsters.

Democrats are seen as likely takers of the 5th, 6th and 7th Congressional Districts — races where there is no incumbent seeking re-election — while also ousting two Republicans from two other districts.

The race for the 5th Congressional District is unique in that it is the state’s only battle featuring two female candidates. With 18 seats in the House, plus two in the Senate, Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress has been all-male since 2014. Pennsylvania also has never had a female governor.

In the the 5th District, encompassing all of Delaware County plus slivers of souther Philadelphia and southern Montgomery County, RealClearPolitics expects Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon to best Republican Pearl Kim by a wide margin.

Both women are lawyers. Scanlon’s career has focused in advocacy, and her campaign centers around gender equity, education and voting rights. Kim meanwhile is a former assistant district attorney to Delaware County’s Special Victims and Domestic Violence Division. Her campaign is focused on maintaining and creating tech and manufacturing jobs. As the daughter of immigrants, she also has championed secure borders on the campaign trail.

Prior to this year’s court-ordered redistricting, the 5th District was represented by Republican Glenn Thompson, who now represents the 15th District.

Next door the CD6 is represented by Republican Ryan Costello, but the incumbent congressman dealt a blow to the GOP’s chances of keeping the district when he dropped his re-election bid in protest of the redistricting outcome.

Democrats are hopeful that their contender, ex-Air Force engineer Chrissy Houlahan, will sway more voters than her Republican opponent, little-known lawyer Greg McCauley.

Houlahan has pledged to expand access to health care, reform the education system and support veterans rights. McCauley’s two big issues are repealing Obamacare and maintaining the Tax Reform Act.

In contrast to Costello’s protest absence from the election, the 7th District is vacant following a resignation: Republican Pat Meehan stepped down in April on the heels of a sexual harassment scandal.

A poll last week from Monmouth University on Meehan’s would-be successors gave Democrat Susan Wild a slight lead over Republican Marty Nothstein. Ballotpedia has the district marked swing blue, but RealClearPolitics pegs the race as too close to call.

Wild, the first female solicitor of Allentown, is campaigning on expanding access to health care, protecting the environment and ending the war on drugs. Nothstein’s big issues include enforcing term limits for congressmen, ending Obamacare and gun rights.

Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for the March 13 special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District celebrates with his supporters at his election night party in Canonsburg, Pa., on March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Just northwest of Pittsburgh, the 17th Congressional District features a unique race between two incumbents. The race pits Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat currently representing the 18th District, against Keith Rothfus, a Republican who represents the 12th District.

Monmouth had Lamb leading over Rothfus 51 percent to 39 percent in June.

The two have put on diametrically opposed campaigns, with the conservative Rothfus voicing support of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, voting to repeal and replace the last administration’s federal health care law, and taking staunch stances against abortion and gay marriage.

Lamb styles himself as an independent, focusing on issues like protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and solving the state’s opioid crisis.

Under the old map, the 17th District was represented by Democrat Rep. Matt Cartwright. He will face off against Republican John Chrin in November now to control the 8th District.

Along the New Jersey border, the newly defined 1st Congressional District now holds all of Bucks County, considered a swing district among left-leaning Philadelphia suburbs.

Though the Bucks County Courier Times has incumbent Republican Brian Fitzpatrick polling ahead of Democratic challenger Scott Wallace, RealClearPolitics labeled the race a toss-up.

Fitzpatrick, who was ranked by the Bipartisan Index as the third most bipartisan member of the House in 2017, campaigns on issues like repealing Obamacare and tightening border protection, but also champions an increase in access to women’s health care as well as a proactive stance on climate change.

Wallace also supports climate change action as well, and has takes progressive stances on health care, immigration and gay rights.

As for the other chamber of Congress, incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey Jr. is predicted to defeat his Republican adversary, Lou Barletta, by significant margin.

In another expected victory for the Democrats, pollsters predict that Governor Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman will also win a second term. RealClearPolitics has them ahead of Republican candidates Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos by more than 14 percentage points.

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