Susan Wild got elected to Congress this fall. Twice.
Come January, she’ll be sworn in again, this time to represent a freshly drawn district in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley.
The state is sending four women to Congress next year, breaking up the all-male delegation. (One of those, Mary Gay Scanlon, succeeded in her own special election, making her another rare double victor.)
We sat down with Wild on her second day in office to talk marijuana, poodles and what she’s squeezing into her (especially short) special term.
Q: You just won two elections. Is that surreal?
A. It’s not surreal anymore. It feels great. It was surreal for a while, but now that I’ve been here for a couple of weeks of orientation and I’ve actually been sworn in on my special election and have been on the House floor and taken a few votes, it’s feeling very real.
Q: You support legalizing marijuana. Why is that?
A: I have supported that for a long time throughout my campaign for a number of reasons. One is because of the effect of criminalizing marijuana on the prison population — the disadvantage that it puts people at. It has a disproportionate effect on minorities.
I also have read a number of studies that have made it clear that legalization of marijuana has a beneficial effect on the rate of opioid addiction.
Finally, I think that it’s very important for veterans. In Pennsylvania, even though the state has authorized the use of medical marijuana, it can’t be used in veterans’ hospitals because of the federal schedule. So all of these together, I think just really make a compelling case.
Q: Tell me about Zoey and the story of how she got to the Capitol.
A: Zoey is a mini poodle who is 7 years old, but acts like she’s about 7 months old. She is very important to me in terms of being a stress relief. Even in my campaign days when things were fast and furious all the time, it was somewhat therapeutic for me to go to the park and run her around.
Nothing really seems to bother her except me not being around. So it’s just a good perspective. Being a little more serious about it, I do believe that it’s a great place to find common ground with people on the other side of the aisle. I haven’t been to all of the office buildings, every floor, but I have already seen a large number of offices that have a dog in the office. Many of them are Republicans, and I think that it will be kind of an informal easy way to forge friendships across the aisle on a nonthreatening basis, where we’re just talking about our dogs.
Q: Four women won in Pennsylvania. What’s the first thing you said to your fellow female victors?
A: I don’t know which one of us texted the rest. We had a group chat going. … We just did a big round of congratulations. We didn’t actually talk for several days, because we were all so busy. [But] we’ve spent a lot of time together since we got here. It’s just nice to have people that you’ve essentially been through a lot with over the last year. I think the world of all three of them. We will always have that special bond of having run together.
Q: Your current term will be rather short. What can you squeeze into that time?
There will be some significant spending bills that are coming up the rest of this year, which I have not fully delved into. I obviously will be doing that before I vote on them, but aside from finishing up the business at hand for the 115th, what I’m really looking forward to is getting [my] committee assignments. I am looking forward to really focusing on the work, depending on which committees I get on.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
About others? Interrupting.
Cats or dogs?
If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?
Last book you read
When is the last time I actually got through a book that wasn’t work-related? Actually, the last portions of a book that I read were portions of the U.S. Constitution, believe it or not, because I was refreshing my memory on some of those things. On another note, I just read the book “Squeezed,” which is about how difficult it is for the middle class to get by. That was recommended to me by a supporter on the campaign trail.
Closest friend across the aisle
Gosh, I haven’t met a lot of people yet outside of my caucus. If we’re not referring to current members, I would say Charlie Dent, for sure. He is a good friend, has been for years. No question I would say Charlie.
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