How Mary Gay Scan­lon separated her­self to win in 5th dis­trict race

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kath­leen E. Carey kcarey@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @dt­busi­ness on Twit­ter

Mary Gay Scan­lon greets vot­ers out­side the He­len Kate Fur­ness Li­brary in Walling­ford Tues­day on Pri­mary Elec­tion Day. Scan­lon beat out nine other Democrats to snag the nom­i­na­tion in the new 5th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. She will face Re­pub­li­can Pearl Kim, who ran un­op­posed.

“We’re fi­nally go­ing to have a woman rep­re­sent­ing Penn­syl­va­nia in the (U.S.) House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. That’s not some­thing that’s a small is­sue.” — Wes Leck­rone, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Wi­dener Univer­sity

It was a fe­male wave that crashed over Penn­syl­va­nia pol­i­tics Tues­day as four U.S. con­gres­sional dis­tricts, in­clud­ing the 5th, found women vic­to­ri­ous in a place where women had never been.

“We’re fi­nally go­ing to have a woman rep­re­sent­ing Penn­syl­va­nia in the (U.S.) House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Wes Leck­rone, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Wi­dener Univer­sity, said. “That’s not some­thing that’s a small is­sue.”

G. Terry Madonna, di­rec­tor of the Franklin & Mar­shall Col­lege’s Cen­ter for Pol­i­tics and Pub­lic Af­fairs, agreed.

On Wed­nes­day, he tweeted, “It looks like 8 women in PA have won nom­i­na­tions for Congress, 7Ds and 1R. If we sub­tract 4D male in­cum­bents that won, women will make up 50 per­cent of the D can­di­dates in the state. That’s historic!”

He ex­trap­o­lated on that later in the day.

“We’ve never elected a fe­male gov­er­nor,” Madonna said. “We’ve never elected a fe­male se­na­tor. We are see­ing an en­ergy level to elect women in this state ... We do not have a sin­gle woman in the Penn­syl­va­nia del­e­ga­tion.”

That changed Tues­day night.

“What’s ba­si­cally go­ing on is ‘The Year of the Woman,’” Madonna said.

He pointed to four con­gres­sional dis­tricts as ex­am­ples of that trend.

Here in Delaware County, Mary Gay Scan­lon of Swarth­more cap­tured the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion with 14,113 votes in Delaware County; 971 votes in Philadel­phia; and 1,760 votes in Mont­gomery County for the 5th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. She will face Re­pub­li­can Pearl Kim of Rad­nor in the fall.

Also, state Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-153 of Abing­ton, won the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for the 4th U.S. Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, cov­er­ing most of Mont­gomery County and a part of Berks County, and Chrissy Houla­han was voted the Demo­crat’s choice for the 6th U.S. Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, which in­cludes all of Chester County and an­other part of Berks County.

In the Le­high Val­ley, Su­san Wild won the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for the 7th U.S. Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. All these dis­tricts were re­drawn this year by the Penn­syl­va­nia Supreme Court fol­low­ing a suit by Demo­cratic vot­ers who said the dis­tricts in 2011 were ger­ry­man­dered. The court agreed with that and had their ap­pointed ex­pert, Stan­ford Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor Nathaniel Persily re­draw the lines af­ter the Penn­syl­va­nia Leg­is­la­ture was un­able to reach an agree­ment on what the new dis­tricts should look like.

Leck­rone said this event caused the Demo­cratic field to swell in the 5th.

“Part of the amaz­ing thing was the en­ergy sur­round­ing this race with the re­draw­ing,” he said. “That’s why you got the 10 can­di­dates.”

He added that part of the thought process for them was, “It’s a once-in-a-life­time shot for me.”

“That per­son – un­less they do some­thing (that) in­volves cor­rup­tion will prob­a­bly have the seat until they de­cide to re­tire,” Leck­rone said.

Some of these pri­mary wins may po­ten­tially end up twice on the bal­lot in Novem­ber. Af­ter for­mer U.S. Rep. Patrick Mee­han, R-7 of Chadds Ford, stepped down, Gov. Tom Wolf set a spe­cial elec­tion for the dis­trict to co­in­cide with the gen­eral elec­tion.

The party com­mit­tees in each of the coun­ties in­cluded in the 7th Dis­trict will make their own recommendations to their state com­mit­tees, who will make the fi­nal nom­i­na­tion for the Demo­cratic and Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates to be placed on the spe­cial elec­tion bal­lot.

This elec­tion, Madonna said vot­ers were in­flu­enced by three fac­tors: Pro­gres­sive women in sup­port of gun con­trol fol­low­ing the Park­land, Fla., mas­sacre; the #metoo move­ment; and a back­lash against the pres­i­dent.

“We have fierce an­i­mos­ity to Pres­i­dent Trump that looms very large in this,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, Leck­rone said pri­maries at­tract a dif­fer­ent crowd than gen­eral elec­tions.

“The peo­ple who tend to vote in pri­mary elec­tions tend to be more ide­o­log­i­cal than the rest of their party,” he said. “Your voter in a Demo­cratic pri­mary is more lib­eral than the av­er­age Demo­crat.”

Leck­rone spoke about how Scan­lon emerged vic­to­ri­ous.

He ex­plained that with more lib­eral Democrats com­ing out, Scan­lon “was a very at­trac­tive can­di­date for that. Look­ing at the re­sults from Swarth­more, she took al­most 90 per­cent of the votes there and that’s a

pretty lib­eral area.”

He said Scan­lon’s ads had for­mer Gov. Ed Ren­dell say­ing she’s “Trump’s nightmare.”

“If you’re an en­er­gized Demo­crat, that’s like, ‘Yes!’” Leck­rone said. “All of this is kind of drive by this anti-Trump move­ment.”

He said Rich Lazer, who won the vote in Philadel­phia with 4,822 votes, or al­most 41 per­cent of the vote, but failed to gain a sig­nif­i­cant lead in Delaware County.

“There just weren’t enough vot­ers from Philadel­phia,” Leck­rone said. “This is a Delco dis­trict now. The Philadel­phia peo­ple tried to take it, to see what they could do, but it didn’t work out that way.”

The fact that Scan­lon could an­nounce her con­gres­sional campaign 80 days ago and win the nom­i­na­tion may seem ex­cep­tional in reg­u­lar years, but this was no reg­u­lar year, Leck­rone said.

“The state Supreme Court ba­si­cally re­drew the map so ev­ery­thing was in flux,” he said. “There’s noth­ing nor­mal about what’s hap­pen­ing.”

Leck­rone laid out some strate­gies as the 5th dis­trict con­tenders now eye the fall.

“In gen­eral, just the nor­mal year, the pres­i­den­tial party tends to lose seats in the house,” he said. “It’ll be a real up­hill bat­tle for Kim to beat Scan­lon just based on the de­mo­graph­ics.” Yet it can be done, he said. “Kim’s go­ing to have to try to moder­ate her­self and prob­a­bly dis­tance her­self from Trump,” Leck­rone said, adding that she’ll have to talk to the mid­dle.

In ad­di­tion, he said, “I think Scan­lon’s a big test for Democrats across the coun­try.”

How­ever, there have been a lot of Democrats nom­i­nated across the coun­try, so Leck­rone said the 5th Dis­trict is no longer a bell­wether case.

“If it were Mee­han ... that would’ve been one of the most clos­est watched races in the coun­try,” he said.


Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­date Mary Gay Scan­lon greets vot­ers out­side the Fur­ness Li­brary in Walling­ford on Tues­day.


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