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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
In any other year, Democrats think Manan Trivedi could walk into Congress.
He is a polished, aggressive campaigner who served as a combat medic with the first soldiers to invade Baghdad. And his fundraising efforts have kept up with Gerlach.
But this is not any other year. And Democratic strategists think Trivedi will struggle in November.
Gerlach was supposed to be among the few vulnerable Republican incumbents this cycle. He shocked the local political establishment by abandoning a bid for governor in the spring, deciding instead to run for a fifth term in a district that gave President Barack Obama 58 percent of the vote in 2008.
In Trivedi, Gerlach faces a Democrat who has embraced the progressive wing of his party in a year where most politicians are running away from the left. It's a strategy that worked in the Democratic primary. And if Democrats turn out in large numbers this fall, it could work then as well.
But few believe that will be the case.
District Profile from Politics in America
The 6th takes in urban, suburban and rural communities stretching from a slice of Montgomery County in the Philadelphia area, including the county seat of Norristown, through northern Chester County and southern and eastern portions of Berks County, including part of Reading and all of Kutztown. Most of the district's land is spread through sparsely populated towns.
Manufacturing remains important to the 6th, and factories are found throughout, especially in areas such as Coatesville, which, like other aging towns, hopes to revitalize its core downtown area. Vanguard, an investment management company, is based in the district, and a food processing sector should help stabilize the 6th's economy as it copes with high unemployment rates in Berks and Chester counties. Once known for its railroads and industrial prowess, the economy of Berks now includes service and retail jobs. Reading has moved away from its industrial image, becoming an entertainment and shopping hub outside of Philadelphia. Much of the Berks County workforce depends on jobs at Reading Hospital and Medical Center.
With its share of historical sites and untouched land, the 6th enjoys a modest tourism industry. The district is home to covered bridges, old mill towns and Pennsylvania Dutch communities. It also is home to both the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Elverson and Valley Forge National Historical Park (shared with the 7th), where George Washington trained Continental Army soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
The generally competitive 6th backed Barack Obama by 17 percentage points in the 2008 presidential election despite continuing to support Republican Jim Gerlach for the U.S. House. Growth and water-use issues concern residents in the region, which is mostly situated in the area triangulated by Philadelphia, Reading and Lancaster.
Manufacturing, tourism, retail
Reading (pt.), 40,967; Norristown, 34,324; Pottstown, 22,377
The largest quilt sale in the United States takes places each year at the Kutztown Pennsylvania German Festival.
|2010||general||Jim Gerlach (R)||133,770||57.1%|
|Manan Trivedi (D)||100,493||42.9%|
|2008||general||Jim Gerlach (R)||179,423||52.1%|
|Bob Roggio (D)||164,952||47.9%|
|2006||general||Jim Gerlach (R)||121,047||50.7%|
|Lois Murphy (D)||117,892||49.3%|
|2004||general||Jim Gerlach (R)||160,348||51%|
|Lois Murphy (D)||153,977||49%|
|2002||general||Jim Gerlach (R)||103,648||51.4%|
|Dan Wofford (D)||98,128||48.6%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 58%||John McCain: 41%|
|2004||John Kerry: 51%||George W. Bush: 48%|
|2000||Al Gore: 49%||George W. Bush: 48%|