Embattled Democrat Daylin Leach draws another primary challenger

    State Sen. Daylin Leach and one of his primary challengers Linda Fields. (Photos courtesy of campaigns)

    Linda Fields, a longtime political activist and labor organizer, announced Monday that she’ll challenge embattled Democrat Daylin Leach to represent parts of Delaware and Montgomery counties in the state Senate.

    That’s the same Linda Fields who, just last year, unsuccessfully tried to unseat Republican Sen. Bob Mensch in the state’s 24th Senate District.

    Fields moved to her home in Leach’s 17th district this year, according to a press release her campaign issued Monday. She decided to run there “because she feels strongly that the people of the 17th district deserve more from their current representation.”

    Senate Democrats in June called on Leach to resign his seat, saying he engaged in “conduct that qualifies as unprofessional and inappropriate.”

    The calls came after caucus leadership received the findings of a preliminary report into allegations of misconduct against Leach.

    Investigators from the law firm Eckert Seamans found “no actionable sexual harassment,” according to a document presented to the caucus, and declined to make a judgment about a report that Leach sexually assaulted a woman when she was a teen. 

    But investigators did find Leach engaged in “immature and unprofessional behavior” that had the potential to “create a hostile work environment,” according to a summary document. 

    Leach has denied all allegations and has so far defied the calls from his colleagues to give up his seat. 

    But the controversy surrounding him has already drawn one other challenger into the race for the 17th. 

    Sara Atkins, a Democratic committee member and political activist from Lower Merion Township, formally announced she would run against Leach in June. She is the first candidate to challenge the incumbent since he was elected to the Senate in 2008, according to the Pottstown Mercury. 

    Shae Ashe, a Montgomery County resident and president of the Norristown Area School Board, announced in July that he would run for Leach’s seat, telling the the Times-Herald that he could “produce results in Harrisburg without distractions.”

    Fields says her policy priorities include preserving healthcare for all Pennsylvanians, ensuring adequate funding for schools, and protecting the rights of workers and women. 

    Her platforms aligns closely with Leach’s, whose positions on marijuana legalization, healthcare, and labor marked him as one of the most progressive voices in his caucus.

    According to a press release, Fields has lived in Montgomery County for 20 years, splitting her time between homes in King of Prussia and Pottstown. From 2015 until 2019, she says, she lived in Pottstown, in Mensch’s 24th district. 

    She relocated to the 17th district in January when she moved to her home in King of Prussia, according to the release. Property records show that Linda and her husband Charles have owned a home there since 2002.

    Pennsylvania’s Constitution requires senators to live in the state for four years and to live in their district for one year prior to their election.

    This story has been updated to add that Shae Ashe is also seeking the Democratic nomination in the 17th district. 

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