This is not my district, but I live close to its borders. I have written before about the way Christianity has been fueling the Democratic candidates for Congress in south-central Pennsylvania. (Also see this post on Lutheran minister George Scott).
LANCASTER, Pa. — Voters in the heart of Pennsylvania’s rolling dairy farms and Amish countryside have rarely seen a Democrat mount a competitive campaign for Congress — until now.
From all appearances, first-time candidate Jess King is giving freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker a fight to the finish in Tuesday’s midterm election in this heavily conservative district on Pennsylvania’s southern border.
Drawn by her Mennonite faith into a career of nonprofit anti-poverty work, King said she isn’t necessarily running against President Donald Trump.
For sure, she doesn’t like Trump, calling him inflammatory and divisive.
But, she said, she is trying to tap into issues where she and Trump voters can agree, whether on the need for health care, a level economic playing field or a government that is responsive to people, not corporate campaign contributions.
“That’s why we don’t talk about Trump so much because it’s not helpful, in that it becomes another element of the division, and shame is not a tactic that works,” King said in an interview in her bustling downtown Lancaster campaign office. “You know, to shame people into, ‘hey, you were wrong in your vote,’ or ‘hey, you should have done something else,’ or ‘hey, I think less of you.’ That doesn’t work, so we don’t do it.”
King, 44, is endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and has gone toe-to-toe with Smucker in fundraising without accepting corporate campaign contributions or getting help from Democratic Party organizations.
Smucker, 54, acknowledges the race is competitive. Two polls in recent weeks have shown a single-digit race and Republicans are not disputing that finding. Still, Smucker says Republicans are getting engaged and happy with the last two years, and will vote to ensure the seat remains in Republican hands.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence came to campaign and raise cash for Smucker, who began airing attack ads that King says are full of lies about her.
Smucker suggests she wants to legalize heroin and abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She doesn’t. He said she’s for open borders. She’s not.
The ads show Smucker in a plaid shirt, call him a central Pennsylvania native and suggest that “socialists” from San Francisco and New York are funding King’s campaign. King does not call herself a socialist and much of Smucker’s campaign contributions are from outside the district.
Read the rest here.