Commentary

Pa. U.S. Rep. Susan Wild’s redrawn 7th District seat is a ‘toss up’ for ’22 | Monday Morning Coffee

The Lehigh Valley lawmaker is the most vulnerable member of the ‘Fab Four’ class of 2018, a new analysis suggests

March 7, 2022 7:06 am

Pa’s ‘Fab Four’ (l-r) U.S. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District; Susan Wild, D-7th District; Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District; and Madeleine Dean, D-4th District on the House floor. (Rep. Dean/Facebook)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Turns out that Route 22, the Lehigh Valley’s ‘Main Street’ isn’t the only road through the region that’s tough to navigate on the best of days.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, who’s spent two terms representing the Lehigh Valley and its residents on Capitol Hill, could face an equally bumpy path as she runs for re-election in a redrawn district this fall, a new analysis by University of Virginia political sage Larry J. Sabato’s team of political prognosticators suggests.

The rematch between Wild and Republican Lisa Scheller is currently a toss-up, according to analyst J. Miles Coleman.

Assuming Pennsylvania’s new congressional map, imposed once again by the state Supreme Court, survives the usual legal challenges (Pennsylvania Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss it), Wild’s seat is set to get a shade or two redder this year.

As Coleman notes, Lehigh and Northampton counties continue to make up the bulk of the rejiggered 7th District (90 percent). But the remaining 10 percent, which was once in Democrat-friendly territory in Monroe County, has been swapped out for turf in reliably red Carbon County.

(Source: Sabato’s Crystal Ball).

If it had been in place two years ago, President Joe Biden would have carried the redrawn 7th District by a whisker-thin, half-a-percentage point, Coleman wrote.

“In 2020, if Wild kept her same performance in Lehigh and Northampton counties but matched Biden in the new parts of the district, she would have lost by about 1,800 votes,” Coleman wrote, adding that “Scheller has racked up endorsements from several Republicans in the delegation, although she may not monopolize the primary.”

One key variable in the race could be the Lehigh Valley’s rapidly expanding Hispanic population. Allentown, the largest city in the district, already is majority Hispanic, growing from 43 percent in 2010 to 54 percent now, Coleman wrote.

“While we have often discussed [former President Donald] Trump’s gains with minorities in the context of Sun Belt states, similar shifts showed up in the northeast. [While] Biden flipped the district, he performed 7 percentage points worse than Hillary Clinton in Allentown,” Coleman wrote. “Had he matched Clinton there, Biden would have carried the district by almost 1.5% instead of half a point — that doesn’t sound like much, but in a district split this evenly, every vote counts.”

As I, and others have observed, the Lehigh Valley has long been a bellwether for the rest of Pennsylvania. And Wild’s fortunes could well be a warning shot for Democrats as they head into a campaign season that finds voters in a cranky mood and pessimistic about the future.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
And after that trenchant analysis above, a majority of Americans recently told Pew pollsters that they hadn’t heard much about redistricting in their home states. Cassie Miller dives into the data in this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

Noted LGBTQ advocate Adrian Shanker, most recently of Allentown’s Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Centeris set for a new role at a California LGBTQ organization, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

In a must-read, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa examines the plight of America’s missing and murdered women of color, and what the federal government can do to help.

Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jacob Fischler, meanwhile, ran the numbers on the hundreds of court cases tied to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and found that more than 15 percent of the accused had ties to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is eligible for approximately $26.5 million in federal grant funding to reclaim abandoned mine lands across the commonwealth, Cassie Miller reports.

Keeping things in the Lehigh Valley, Correspondent Katherine Reinhard takes a look at the debate over an Allentown ordinance requiring contractor apprenticeships on city projects.

In Philadelphia, city council approved an ordinance requiring employers with 25 or more employees to provide 40 hours of COVID-19 sick leave, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.  

En la Estrella-Capital: Con el apoyo de Gov. Tom Wolf, el fondo de pensiones de los profesores de Pa. abandona las inversiones rusas. Y los miembros del comité del partido del condado pueden comenzar a recolectar firmas, según las reglas del tribunal superior.

On our Commentary Page this morning: As war rages in Ukraine, opinion regular Dick Polman wonders whether Americans are really willing to put up with some domestic sacrifice. And Rob Schofield, of our sibling site, North Carolina PolicyWatch, says there’s a message Americans need to hear at a pivotal moment in history — but are they willing to listen?

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District (L) and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (R) (Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek)

Elsewhere.
The Inquirer breaks down the rare areas of disagreement between the Democrats running for U.S. Senate.

The Post-Gazette talks to disgruntled motorists about rising gas prices in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania.

Republican leaders in the state House want to send expiring PPE stockpiles to Ukraine, PennLive reports.

LancasterOnline explains how Lancaster County could spend millions of dollars in federal assistance to expand broadband access.

USA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau looks at efforts to counter white supremacy in the state.

Some 25,000 fewer children are benefiting from a state-run affordable childcare program, Spotlight PA reports with an assist from WESA-FM (via the Morning Call).

Luzerne County Council will vote Tuesday on a proposal to eliminate public comment from one portion of its meetings, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

BillyPenn explains why there’s no police body camera footage from the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia 12-year-old (via WHYY-FM).

Fatal overdoses skyrocketed in Erie last year. GoErie takes a look at local efforts to combat them.

The Observer-Reporter talks to one Washington County family fearing for their loved ones’ safety in Ukraine.

Stateline.org explains how state-imposed bans on Russian-made goods could violate the U.S. Constitution.

The leaders of Philadelphia’s minority chambers of commerce tell City & State Pa. that the city needs to be more business-friendly.

PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.

Some Republicans have taken to referring to Democrats as ‘communists.’ NYMag’s Intelligencer explains why that betrays a fundamental historical ignorance.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

 

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What Goes On
Budget hearings roll on in the House Appropriations Committee. All sessions are streamed live from the House floor.
10 a.m.: Department of Education (continues at 1 p.m.)
3 p.m.: Community Colleges

Also: The House Democratic Policy Committee meets at 1 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf holds a pair of events today. At 10:30 a.m., he’s in Allentown to talk about efforts to improve educational equity. At 2:15 p.m., he’ll hold a news conference in the Governor’s Reception Room to talk about the state’s further efforts to cut ties with Russia.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Sean Crampsie, of APSCUF, who celebrated on Sunday.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s some new music from England’s The Kooks. It’s ‘Connection.’ And they absolutely have not lost a step.


Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Carolina Hurricanes extended their home points streak to 11 games on Sunday, beating the visiting Seattle Kraken 3-2 at PNC Bank Arena. The Canes’ Marty Necas scored the game-winner in the third period, NHL.com reports.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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