In a bellwether Pa. seat, Democrat Susan Wild touts record as she pursues third term

She’s facing Republican Lisa Scheller in a rematch in the redrawn 7th Congressional District

By: - October 6, 2022 6:30 am
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District (Armchair Lehigh Valley).

(Editor’s Note: A profile of Republican 7th District candidate Lisa Scheller will run on Sunday)

Democrat incumbent Susan Wild is seeking her third term as the representative in the 7th Congressional District.

She is again facing Lisa Scheller, a former chairperson of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners and current chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Co., based in Rush Township, Schuylkill County.

Wild, of South Whitehall Township, defeated Scheller, of Allentown, 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent in 2020.

The 7th District includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon counties and in Monroe County, Eldre,d and Polk township,s and about half of Ross Township.

The district leans Republican +4 now that Carbon has been added, and most of Monroe County was eliminated, under a newly drawn map, according to FiveThirtyEight, which analyzes political data.

Wild spent the summer meeting with constituents as well as business, community, and education leaders to hear their concerns, and to talk about how she has been trying to help them.

“I will use my advocacy skills to bring positive change to our government and make it work for you,” Wild said on Facebook.

She has touted Biden’s recent run of successful initiatives. Among them is the  CHIPS + Science Act, which includes Wild’s Regional Innovation Act, which will create 20 regional technology hubs.

On July 13, Wild and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo held a roundtable on solving supply chain issues in the Lehigh Valley.

How Carbon County voters could decide the winner of 7th Congressional District

In early August, she and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Lehigh Valley International Airport and Lehigh Carbon Community College to see how funding from the $1.2 trillion, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Bill is being used locally.

With Carbon County now part of the 7th, Wild and Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor, visited Carbon County where she said she wanted to connect with the voters there.

Wild has criticized Scheller for profiting from her company’s global operations, including operations in Suzhou and Jinan in China.

According to Scheller’s August financial disclosure report, Scheller had $5 million to $25 million in value and income of $1 million to $5 million alone from the Jinan operation.

Wild also has accused Scheller of shipping jobs to China after Silberline closed a plant in Decatur, Indiana, in 2019 and a plant in Lansford in 2016 –  a charge Scheller denies.

Siberline has 700 employees worldwide, according to the company’s Linkedin page. It has 160 employees in Rush Township. There are plans to open another plant in China next year.

“I’m working to keep jobs here– not send them overseas. By investing in manufacturing here in Pennsylvania, we can strengthen our supply chains, support the local economy, and create good-paying jobs in #PA07,” Wild tweeted on Sept. 14.

Like many Democrats, Wild, who is staunchly pro-abortion rights, also is making abortion an issue in the race.

“This race could determine whether Republicans have the votes in Congress to pass a nationwide abortion ban – and my opponent would be a vote to make that ban happen. To protect the right to choose, we must win this race,” Wild tweeted.

A Sept. 9 ad watch by The Morning Call found that political ads by Wild and the House Majority PAC are “partially misleading” on Scheller’s position on abortion. Wild has made some changes on her attacks on Scheller’s abortion stands.

In an April debate before the primary, Scheller said, “Yes, I am open to it” when asked if she would support a federal law making it a crime for a physician to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectible unless the life of the mother is at stake.

In the same debate, she said would not support a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She said she would not vote to ban RU 486, a pill used to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks. She also said would vote to allow abortions if the health of the mother is in question, but her life is not in danger. She further would allow abortions in case of rape and incest. She said she would never vote in favor of a law to codify Roe v. Wade. She said she is in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood.

Wild entered the summer with nearly $2 million more in campaign funds than Scheller.

She had $3,143,371 in cash on hand in the FEC reporting quarter that began othe n April 28 and ended June 30. Scheller ended the period with $1,190,663 in cash. For more details, click here.

Background:

Wild, 65, was born in West Germany while her father Norman Leith was stationed there as an Air Force officer. His career meant frequent moves for the family. Her mother Susan Stimus Ellis was a newspaper reporter.

Wild graduated from American University in 1978 and earned a law degree from George Washington University in 1982. She married and later divorced Russell Wild. They have two adult children.

Wild was a partner in Allentown the law firm Gross McGinley. She became Allentown’s city solicitor in 2015 and served for two years. Her time in the part-time post coincided with an FBI raid that led to the conviction of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and others for what was described as a “pay-to-play” scheme.

Pa. Rep. Susan Wild holds $2M advantage over Republican Scheller in 7th District congressional race

The Morning Call reported that Wild was credited by the FBI for her help in securing city documents needed for the investigation. 

Political career:

Wild ran for Lehigh County commissioner for District 2 in 2013, but lost to longtime Republican incumbent Percy Dougherty. 

Wild ran for Congress after Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent announced he would not seek an eighth term in the 15th Congressional District in 2018. Under redistricting, the Lehigh Valley became part of the 7th District.

Wild faced Republican Marty Nothstein, an Olympic track-cycling gold medalist, and former Lehigh County commissioner, defeatin him with 55.3 percent of the vote to Nothstein’s 43.5 percent.

Wild, who also defeated Nothstein in a special election in 2018 to fill the remaining two months in Dent’s 15th District term, becoming the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley.

Wild’s defeat of Scheller in 2020 came in a year that saw Democrat Joe Biden defeat Republican President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania.

Wild had no challengers in the May 17 primary.

Political leanings 

Wild has been described by national media as being among the “moderate” House Democrats.

The political data website FiveThirtyEight said Wild has voted in favor of Biden’s agenda 100 percent of the time, including the Respect for Marriage Act.

She describes herself as an “independent-minded member of Congress” who is focused on serving all her constituents regardless of their political leanings. She said she is a fighter for the working class.

GOP hopeful Scheller slams Biden’s student debt plan. Her company had PPP loans wiped clean

In Congress, Wild was appointed to serve as the chair on the Ethics Committee on Sept. 30. She also serves on the Foreign Affairs, Education and Workforce, and Science, Space and Technology committees.

She has introduced 58 pieces of legislation — most recently legislation that would restructure the federal student loan program to help reduce student debt. 

ISSUES:

Abortion: 

Wild has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and has received contributions from NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC. She criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, voting yes to an abortion rights protection bill in July. She appeared at an Easton rally protesting the decision in August.

“It is the most egregious assault that we have seen yet in the modern times of our country on the notion of equal rights for women and on the concept that women have the right to control their own bodies,” Wild said in May when a draft of the decision was leaked.

Gun legislation:

Wild voted yes for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which expands background checks for persons under age 21, narrows the “boyfriend loophole” for gun purchases and provides funding for mental health services, and for states to implement “red flag laws.”

She voted in favor of Protecting our Kids Actwhich would raise the age for purchasing assault rifles to 21. The bill passed the House but has no chance of passing the Senate.

“Americans should not fear being gunned down as they go about their daily lives. We should not fear shopping at a grocery store, going to a concert, dropping our children off at school, or attending our houses of worship,” Wild said.

She also voted in favor of an assault weapons ban. It passed the House 217-213, and has little chance of advancing in the Senate.

Veterans: 

Wild voted in favor of the PACT Act, which greatly expanded health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. The bill had bipartisan support when it passed the House on July 13. It initially failed in the Senate when 25 Republican supporters voted no, citing unrelated costs. The no vote created a maelstrom of criticism with Democrats viewing it as anti-veteran. The Senate eventually passed the bill.

“My dad served in the Air Force, which means supporting our veterans is personal to me – so I am thankful that POTUS signed the #PACTAct into law this morning,” she said in a tweet.

Economy and inflation:

Wild voted in favor of the the CHIPS + Science Act, which allotted $52 billion to subsidize U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and billions in additional funding for emerging technology research and development. The measure contains Wild’s Regional Innovation Act, which will create 20 regional technology hubs. Wild is hoping one will be located in the Lehigh Valley.

Wild voted in favor of the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which seeks to reduce inflation by establishing a 15 percent minimum corporate tax, cutting health care costs with measures such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs, and boosting IRS collections.

She voted in favor of the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would prevent gas and oil companies from unfairly raising prices during shortages. The measure passed the House but not the Senate.

In June, she was among six moderate Democrats who wrote to Biden, asking him to lift some of the tariffs that Trump imposed to ease inflation, according to politicopro.com.

Correspondent Katherine Reinhard covers the Lehigh Valley for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. She wrote this story for the political newsletter Armchair Lehigh Valley, where it first appeared

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