For Democrats nationwide, the midterm elections on Nov. 6 represent an opportunity to turn the House of Representatives blue for the first time since 2010. Closer to campus, Penn Democrats hopes to play a role in the fight for the House, planning canvassing events for candidates in tight congressional races across Pennsylvania.
One of Penn Dems' first stops will be Allentown, Pa., located in Lehigh County, about an hour's drive outside of Philadelphia. On Saturday, Sept. 15, Penn Dems will join a host of other college political groups to knock on doors in support of Democrat Susan Wild, a lawyer running in the 7th Congressional District aiming to break Pennsylvania’s all-male congressional delegation.
The congressional district around Allentown, like many others, changed greatly following the redrawing of districts in early 2018. The most comparable district on the old map was district 15. The district 7 seat is also currently vacant after Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) resigned this April following allegations of sexual harassment from a former staff member.
For Penn Dems Political Director and College junior Gabrielle Fink, this race is particularly important because it presents an opportunity to send a female representative from Pennsylvania to Congress — a key step to take in what Democrats are calling the “Year of the Woman.”
“[The all-male delegation] is completely non-representative of the population in the Commonwealth, and this year there are a lot of exciting female candidates who won tough primaries in districts that have not been represented by Democrats before,” Fink said.
In Pennsylvania's District 5, two women, Republican Pearl Kim and Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon, are running against each other. This means that even if Wild is unsuccessful, Pennsylvania's congressional delegation will not be all-male come November.
Penn Dems Communications Director and College senior Jack Weisman agreed, adding that Wild is one of numerous candidates running for office in response to the policies put in place by President Donald Trump.
“[Wild] is one of the many people across the country who was fed up with the Trump administration’s constant attacks on health care and education, which to her are the most important issues,” Weisman said. “The general state of the country right now isn’t great, and she’s excited to run for Congress.”
Fink also expressed enthusiasm for Wild, citing her past experience in local government.
“Susan Wild is a proven leader in her community, and as the first female solicitor of Allentown she has always been fighting for the working class,” Fink said.
Penn Dems President and Wharton junior Dylan Milligan said the group hoped to bring more than 50 students to knock on doors for around three to four hours on Saturday.
“The goal is to be informational, persuasive, and as election day gets closer, to remind people to vote and tell them where their polling stations are,” Milligan said.
Saturday’s canvassing event marks Penn Dems' first field effort of the midterm season, and Fink said the organization has more trips planned in Pennsylvania’s 1st District and New Jersey’s 3rd District to flip seats currently in Republican control.
In elections that are rated as toss-ups, Fink said that canvassing and motivating voters at their doorsteps can be crucial to winning.
“Hillary Clinton won the district by a little over one point in 2016, and if we are going to flip the House in November, working for all these local candidates is super important,” Fink said. "When the races are this close, it really comes down to field work and who can turn out more voters on election day."
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.