Penn­syl­va­nia’s fe­male mem­bers of Congress

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Marc Levy

Tues­day’s elec­tion saw Penn­syl­va­nia elect a state record four women to the U.S. House, smash­ing what had been an all-male con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion in Penn­syl­va­nia since 2014.

Penn­syl­va­nia cur­rently is the most pop­u­lous state with­out a woman serv­ing in Congress. Penn­syl­va­nia has never sent more than two women to Congress at any one time, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from Chatham Univer­sity. Here is a look at the four win­ners:

Madeleine Dean

Dean, who won an open con­gres­sional seat in Mont­gomery County, is a lawyer, for­mer writ­ing and ethics in­struc­tor at La Salle Univer­sity who won her first elec­tion to the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2012.

She said she wants to go to Wash­ing­ton to con­tinue do­ing what’s she done in Harrisburg: “fight­ing.”

After Trump’s vic­tory in 2016, Dean found in­spi­ra­tion to run for a higher of­fice.

“I don’t know about you, but in my house there was some cry­ing,” she told a Demo­cratic pri­mary crowd ear­lier this year.

In Harrisburg, she earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a hard-nosed and smart leg­is­la­tor. But even be­fore that, she showed no fear of run­ning for pub­lic of­fice, win­ning a seat as an Abing­ton Town­ship com­mis­sioner when she was just 18.

Be­fore she ran for state House, Dean, 58, the youngest of seven chil­dren, raised three boys, one of whom worked in for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s White House.

After the 2012 school shoot­ing at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary in Con­necti­cut, Dean started a cau­cus of law­mak­ers de­voted to fight­ing gun vi­o­lence and in­tro­duced bills to ex­pand back­ground checks and ban bump stocks.

Dean won a three-way pri­mary, and beat Repub­li­can Dan David on Tues­day. She’ll ef­fec­tively re­place the re­tir­ing long­time Demo­cratic Rep. Bob Brady.

Chrissy Houla­han

Houla­han has been a lot of things: an Air Force en­gi­neer, ath­letic ap­parel com­pany ex­ec­u­tive, a chem­istry teacher and pres­i­dent of a na­tional non­profit work­ing to im­prove lit­er­acy in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

Now, Houla­han is one­for-one in her cam­paigns for pub­lic of­fice, win­ning an open Chester County-based seat.

Houla­han, 51, was over­whelmed with emo­tion on Tues­day night, de­spite an easy vic­tory.

“I’m gen­uinely over­whelmed and I’m go­ing to do my very best to be as col­lected as I can be in a mo­ment that I never thought that I would have,” she told a ju­bi­lant crowd.

Trump’s elec­tion also was a sem­i­nal mo­ment for her: her daugh­ter, who is openly gay, and her fa­ther, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, were in tears over the out­come of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, she told The Philadel­phia In­quirer.

“Given the state of our democ­racy, and the state, frankly, of our dis­course, I felt like I had to do some­thing,” she said.

Houla­han, who raised three girls, is also mo­ti­vated by gun vi­o­lence: it is a per­sis­tent topic on the cam-

"I’m gen­uinely over­whelmed and I’m go­ing to do my very best to be as col­lected as I can be in a mo­ment that I never thought that I would have." — Chrissy Houla­han

paign trail from par­ents afraid to send their kids to school, she said.

Houla­han beat Repub­li­can Greg McCauley to suc­ceed two-term Repub­li­can Rep. Ryan Costello, who de­cided not to seek an­other term.

Mary Gay Scan­lon

Scan­lon, a long­time pub­lic in­ter­est and probono lawyer, won an open seat in Delaware County.

For most of her ca­reer, Scan­lon, 59, was an at­tor­ney at the non-profit Ed­u­ca­tion Law Cen­ter, a pub­lic-in­ter­est law cen­ter that works to im­prove pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, or head­ing up the pro-bono com­mit­tee at a prom­i­nent Philadel­phi­abased law firm.

Through it, she raised three chil­dren and stepped up after the 1999 school shoot­ing at Columbine High School in Colorado, pay­ing for two school buses to take friends and neigh­bors to the “Mil­lion Mom March in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Her pro-bono work took on a new di­men­sion after Trump’s elec­tion: more im­mi­grants were threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion, more vot­ing rights groups sought help be­cause of strict voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws and the threat of ger­ry­man­der­ing, she said. That, plus the “Me Too” move­ment spring­ing to life.

“That’s the point at which I de­cided I had to run,” she said.

Scan­lon beat Repub­li­can Pearl Kim after win­ning a 10-way Demo­cratic pri­mary in May.

She will suc­ceed Repub­li­can Pat Mee­han, who re­signed in April while un­der an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion for us­ing tax­payer money to set­tle a for­mer aide’s sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint.

Su­san Wild

Wild, a lawyer, won an open Al­len­town-based seat that had been un­der Repub­li­can con­trol for two decades.

Wild, 61, is a prom­i­nent Al­len­town lawyer, in­clud­ing serv­ing briefly as the city’s so­lic­i­tor. Last year, she worked with civil rights lawyers in the midst of Trump’s newly an­nounced travel ban to help a Syr­ian fam­ily that had been turned away at Philadel­phia In­ter­na­tional Air­port and had their visas abruptly can­celled after spend­ing 13 years try­ing to get them.

A mother of two, Wild said she was run­ning pri­mar­ily be­cause she was con­cerned about her chil­dren’s gen­er­a­tion.

“The most ter­ri­fy­ing prospect for me as a par­ent is my chil­dren’s gen­er­a­tion is fac­ing a fu­ture where they will be worse off than the gen­er­a­tion be­fore them,” she told a pri­mary au­di­ence last spring.

While Wild tended to mute her crit­i­cism of Trump, she fell in line with core Demo­cratic Party stances on min­i­mum wage, taxes, health care, cli­mate change and gun vi­o­lence.

Wild beat Repub­li­can Marty Noth­stein on Tues­day after win­ning a six-way pri­mary in May.

She will suc­ceed Repub­li­can Char­lie Dent, who an­nounced last year that he wouldn’t seek re-elec­tion be­fore he faced a po­ten­tially hos­tile elec­torate. He re­signed in May.


Penn­syl­va­nia con­gres­sional can­di­dates, from left, Chrissy Houla­han, Mary Gay Scan­lon, state Rep. Madeleine Dean and Su­san Wild, take part in a cam­paign rally in Philadel­phia. Each of the Demo­cratic can­di­dates won their elec­tions on Nov. 6 and are set to be­come the first women from Penn­syl­va­nia to serve full terms in Congress since 2014.

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