Re­match: Mee­han vs. Balchu­nis in 7th Dis­trict

Can­di­dates pre­vi­ously squared off 2 years ago

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kath­leen E. Carey kcarey@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @dt­busi­ness on Twit­ter

U.S. Rep. Pa­trick Mee­han, R-7, of Chadds Ford, and Demo­crat Mary Ellen Balchu­nis have faced each other be­fore – but not in an elec­tion like this.

For one, it was not a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year in 2014.

Se­condly, the two faced pri­mary chal­lenges they both over­came – Mee­han faced Mont­gomery County busi­ness­man Stan Casa­cio and Balchu­nis, at one point, faced two con­tenders, Bill Golderer and Lindy Li.

With thou­sands of new vot­ers re­cently reg­is­tered to vote, more peo­ple are ex­pected to show up at their polls to make their voices heard through their bal­lot se­lec­tion.

Mee­han is cer­tainly a fa­mil­iar name in Delaware County. He’s held his U.S. con­gres­sional seat since 2011, when for­mer Navy Ad­mi­ral Joe Ses­tak, who pre­vi­ously served the 7th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, un­suc­cess­fully sought a U.S. Se­nate po­si­tion.

In Wash­ing­ton, Mee­han serves on the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, its Over­sight and Hu­man Re­sources sub­com­mit­tee, the House Ethics Com­mit­tee and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ chief tax-writ­ing com­mit­tee.

He has also chaired the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee’s Sub­com­mit­tee on Cy­ber­se­cu­rity.

Pre­vi­ously, Mee­han was the U.S. at­tor­ney for the Eastern Dis­trict of Penn­syl­va­nia. In his ca­pac­ity as Delaware County dis­trict at­tor­ney, he formed the In­ter­net Crimes Against Chil­dren Task Force. He also was a ref­eree in the Na­tional Hockey League for two years.

Mee­han lives in Chadds Ford with his wife and their three sons.

Mee­han’s sup­port has come from a va­ri­ety of places in­clud­ing the South­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Cham­bers of Com­merce and the Na­tional Real­tors As­so­ci­a­tion; the Philadel­phia and Delaware County Coun­cils of Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Trades; the Penn­syl­va­nia State Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion and Delaware County United for Sen­si­ble Gun Pol­icy.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive out­lined why he is seek­ing re­elec­tion to his post.

“I want to con­tinue to work on be­half of the con­stituents

of my dis­trict fight­ing for the things that they care about and con­tin­u­ing to be a thought­ful, in­de­pen­dent voice in Wash­ing­ton,” Mee­han said.

The 61-year-old iden­ti­fied his pri­or­i­ties as con­stituent jobs, the econ­omy and safety.

He pointed to the bi­par­ti­san ef­fort with U.S. Rep. John Car­ney, D-Del., in sav­ing 700 jobs that were in jeop­ardy when Cigna Global Health Ben­e­fits was con­sid­er­ing aban­don­ing its Wilm­ing­ton, Del., fa­cil­ity to go over­seas due to costs em­a­nat­ing from the Af­ford­able Care Act. Mee­han was among those who suc­cess­fully fought for a mod­i­fi­ca­tion to that, re­sult­ing in the com­pany re­main­ing here.

He said he ex­pects to con­tinue to fight for the V-22

Osprey, a large por­tion of which is con­structed at the Boe­ing plant in Delaware County.

And, Mee­han said he’d con­tinue to use his po­si­tion on the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee to in­flu­ence poli­cies that will pro­tect work­ers in the dis­trict’s back­yard.

Balchu­nis is a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at La Salle Uni­ver­sity and a Ful­bright Scholar. She also was ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The Re­source Cen­ter for Hu­man Ser­vices and was an as­sis­tant to the Philadel­phia mayor.

She lives in the Ard­more sec­tion of Haver­ford with her daugh­ter.

Balchu­nis has also re­ceived en­dorse­ments from a va­ri­ety of groups from the Penn­syl­va­nia and na­tional chap­ters of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women, Planned Par­ent­hood; Penn­syl­va­nia AFL-CIO, AFSCME Lo­cal 1199C and SEIU Lo­cal 668.

The 62-year-old said she is run­ning be­cause she felt it is time.

“I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go all the way to the end,” she said.

She spoke of a rev­e­la­tion that oc­curred to her while teach­ing her classes.

“You can do a lot of good with pol­i­tics,” Balchu­nis said. “I think it’s more im­por­tant now to be in Congress. I felt like it’s time to walk the walk not talk the talk.”

The Demo­crat said rais­ing the min­i­mum wage and se­cur­ing equal pay for women were among her top is­sues.

“It’s a jus­tice is­sue,” she said. “We should be paid fairly.”

She also voiced con­cern for se­niors and So­cial Se­cu­rity, af­ford­able col­lege as well as a ban on as­sault weapons.

“I would work to pro­tect Medi­care and So­cial Se­cu­rity,” she said.

In ad­di­tion, she par­tic­i­pated in a walk with 100 peo­ple to Mee­han’s Spring­field of­fice in June to call on a ban of as­sault weapons, fol­low­ing the Or­lando night­club shoot­ing that killed 49 peo­ple.

Balchu­nis has also said she would fight for back­ground checks.

“We need to bring clo­sure to that and get that passed,” she said.

Balchu­nis said her num­bers are look­ing good.

“The polls showed we were within strik­ing dis­tance,” she said, adding that the AFL-CIO en­dorse­ment has tra­di­tion­ally gone to the in­cum­bent.

“We’re work­ing with Hil­lary-co­or­di­nated of­fices,” she said, point­ing to Clin­ton’s

po­si­tion in polls done in the Philadel­phia suburbs. Balchu­nis is a long-time Clin­ton sup­porter dat­ing back to 1992 when she lec­tured in one of her La Salle Uni­ver­sity’s classes.

She said the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are giv­ing a boost to in­di­vid­u­als run­ning in lo­cal elec­tions.

“The top of the ticket is go­ing to re­ally help us,” Balchu­nis said.

Con­cern­ing the race to the White House, she said Mee­han’s op­po­si­tion to Trump comes a lit­tle too late.

“I’m up­set with Mee­han for not com­ing up ear­lier and crit­i­ciz­ing Trump for the racist com­ments, the com­ments against women, com­ments against dis­abled peo­ple,” Balchu­nis said. “I feel like he’s just look­ing at the polls now and de­cid­ing what to do.”

A lit­tle more than two weeks ago, Mee­han called on Trump to end his cam­paign.

“I have stated pub­licly that I had asked Don­ald Trump to step down in the af­ter­math of the rev­e­la­tion of his com­ments re­gard­ing var­i­ous women,” the rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

He ex­plained that was not an easy con­clu­sion for him to reach.

“Don­ald Trump earned the sup­port of the Repub­li­can Party by lead­ing the pri­maries,” he said. “I wanted him to earn my vote by his con­duct as a can­di­date and he did not.”

Mee­han will not be vot­ing across the col­umn, though.

“I will not sup­port Hil­lary Clin­ton,” he said. “I will be writ­ing a vote in for Mike Pence on Elec­tion Day. I want to con­tinue to fight for our can­di­dates up and down the ticket.”

The 7th Dis­trict spans much of Delaware County, as well as parts of Ch­ester, Mont­gomery, Berks and a small slice of Lan­caster.

Mary Ellen Balchu­nis

U.S. Rep. Pat Mee­han

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