Politics

Perry Gets Two More Democratic Challengers in New District

The central PA district became more Democratic under a new map

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., is now in a more competitive district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

GOP Rep. Scott Perry drew two more Democratic challengers Wednesday, now that his newly redrawn district has become more competitive. 

The Pennsylvania Republican’s district, is now the 10th, became more Democratic under a new congressional map. The state Supreme Court imposed new district lines following a lawsuit that the previous map was an extreme partisan gerrymander. GOP state lawmakers are challenging the new map in court, but the lawsuit is considered a long-shot. 

Under the new lines, Perry’s district shifted from a seat President Donald Trump won by 21 points to a seat Trump would have won by 9 points in 2016. Democrats view the GOP-leaning district as potentially competitive in a favorable election year. 

On Wednesday Democrat Christina Hartman, who had been looking for a rematch against neighboring GOP Rep. Lloyd Smucker, announced she would run against Perry instead. Hartman lost to Smucker by 11 points in 2016, and Smucker's district became more Republican under the new map. 

Public health scientist Eric Ding also announced on Wednesday that he would jump in the race in what will be his first run for public office. 

Hartman enters the 10th District race with a sizable campaign war chest. She had $219,000 in cash on hand at the end of 2017, according to Federal Elections Commission documents. Perry had $374,000 in the bank. 

Hartman has worked for international nonprofits and began planning a rematch against Smucker shortly after the 2016 election. The 10th District does not include any of Smucker’s district, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections, so Hartman will have to introduce herself to voters.

Lancaster Online reported that Hartman does not live in the newly drawn 10th District. Candidates are not required to live in the districts they are running in.

Ding does live in Carlisle, which is in the district. He grew up in Cumberland County and returned to the district in October 2017.

Ding acknowledged in a phone interview that fundraising will be a challenge, but he believed he would be successful. Ding said he has been receiving support from 314 Action, a group backing candidates with scientific backgrounds. The group has not endorsed Ding but has assisted him with his campaign launch.

“We are excited about Eric’s candidacy at a time when we desperately need more scientists with evidence-based training in Congress to combat the Trump Administration's culture of alternative facts,” 314 spokesman Ted Bordelon said.

Ding comes from a family of Chinese immigrants and is a product of Pennsylvania public schools. Ding went on to study at Johns Hopkins Univiersity and Harvard, earning two doctorates in epidemeology, or the study of diseases, and nutrition by the time he was 23 years old. Ding said experiencing going through his own medical scare made him want to accomplish as much as he could.

“If I did not have health care we wouldn’t be speaking today,” Ding said in a phone interview. He said as a young man doctors discovered a tumor the size of a baseball in his right lung, though it was not cancerous.

Ding said he had been contemplating a run for Congress for several years, and Trump’s election was the tipping point. As a scientist, he said he brings a solutions-based approach to public policy problems.

“I think the message that Donald Trump has been dismantling all these different public opportunity and safety nets will really resonate with voters,” Ding said. “And I’m actually here to solve the opioid epidemic ... I’m an epidemiologist. This is what I do.”

Ding does support a government-run health care system known as “Medicare-for-All,” and he said he will be able to make his case to more conservative voters who might be skeptical of such a program.

“I think universal health care is one of the most fundamental human rights,” Ding said. He said ensuring health care could spur job growth, and free voters to follow their passions rather than being tied to a job because it offered health care.

With the filing deadline scheduled for March 20, it’s possible more candidates could jump in the race. Two other Democrats, former congressional aide Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson and former Army officer George Scott, are also running.The state’s auditor, Eugene DePasquale, announced Monday that he would not run for Congress, according to the York Daily Record.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

Watch: The Many Ways to Draw a Gerrymander

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