Pennsylvania will be holding its first election since the redistricting of the congressional map. Prior to 2018, the Keystone state was utilizing an odd as well as the controversial congressional map which was the joke of many, as some pointed out that the odd shapes of some districts resembled certain images. While the state has an almost even split between Democrat and Republican voters, the state’s congressional representation is overwhelmingly Republican, taking 13 of the 18 seats. However, after much criticism, a lawsuit helped to void the map and in February, state leaders managed to create a new map which provides what many argue a fair representation of the spectrum in Pennsylvania
Various Republicans opposed the new map, arguing that dismantling the current one would divide communities which are conjoined by the previous one. Critics such as President Trump tweeted that new map would be “unfair to Republicans”. The Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania and the United States have deemed otherwise in the past months.
As the new districts settle into to the political world, the Lehigh Valley will see congressional representation shift as opposed to previous elections. In the past, Easton, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton were all apart of the 17th District, represented by Congressman Matthew Cartwright (D). Meanwhile, Allentown and Bethlehem were under the representation of Congressman Charlie Dent (R). Under the new map, the Lehigh Valley will once again be joined under the 7th District, as the ABE will be represented as one. Many argue in favor of this measure, stating that congressional districts should be a representation of the collective areas with similar features.
Currently, polls are pointing out that a Democrat may more likely represent the new 7th District. This measure would shift the representation of Allentown and Bethlehem which have been overseen by Rep. Dent, a Republican, for over 10 years. Polls are calling for double-digit victories over Republicans in the Fall however, it is still too early to form a conclusion as months of campaigning have not been completed.
Currently, Republicans have set out to choose between Dean Browning and Marty Nothstein. Browning has lived in the Lehigh Valley since 1979 and has worked as an executive at some corporations such as Air Products and Coca-Cola. He refers to himself as a strong supporter of President Trump, as well as the Second Amendment. Browning states that he is a ‘Christian Republican’ on his website and boasts about his tough stance on immigration.
Marty Nothstein, an Olympic gold medalist in cycling, is also running in the Republican Primary. Marty currently runs a farm here in the Lehigh Valley, boasting his small business knowledge. He currently runs on a platform that favors fiscal responsibility and supports pro-life measures, term limits, as well as a fight against the opioid crisis.
As for the Democrats, the primaries are currently fueled by six candidates who are running in the primary. Currently, the candidates are DA John Morganelli, Susan Wild, Greg Edwards, David Clark, Rich Daugherty, and Roger Ruggles. While the list is long, it’s important to note that the three most prominent candidates are Edwards, Morganelli, and Wild.
While they overlap on certain issues, it remains clear that Morganelli upholds a far more centralized opinion, while others like Edwards and Wild are more left-leaning. Currently, Greg Edwards has received the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for insisting on a $15 minimum wage and by demanding a $1 trillion package for infrastructure. Susan Wild currently receives the support of Lehigh Valley for All and recognizes the importance of postulating women into power. She currently runs on principles which defend social security, immigration reform for undocumented immigrants, and supports our veterans by looking to improve some of the devices which they already receive.
While congressional elections may captivate us, other key elections are also set to be voted on today. For the Pennsylvania Governor Election, Republicans will vote in the primaries to elect who will represent them in their fight against a Tom Wolf. Currently, most polls show State Senator Scott Wagner ahead of his competition. Wagner however, has much to work on still if he wins, as Gov. Wolf still has an advantage over him in various polls.
While there is much to come, it remains clear that the political realm of Pennsylvania has received an unprecedented change over the past few months. Currently, Democrats seek to clinch the ‘Blue Wave’ in order to change the course of politics, while Republicans seek to constrain their power as they boast of some of the successful achievements of the party in the past few months. None of this seems easy, and things will only become tenser for both from now until November when many candidates will be elected into office. The battle for control in the coin toss state of Pennsylvania is in full motion, and we as spectators must let our voices be heard in order to clinch a victory for our interests.
If you’re interested in voting today, don’t forget that polls are open from 7AM-8PM. You must be registered to vote, and first-time voters must show proper ID. For more information on voting in today’s primaries, you can visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/voting-and-elections/ where they can prompt with general information as well as your voting place if you’re not sure where it is.