The race for Republican Pat Meehan’s congressional seat is beginning to look as crowded as I-95 during rush hour: A seventh Democrat jumped into the party’s primary for Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News, Ashley Lunkenheimer said that she is running.
“I was watching what was happening in our community and I felt compelled to try and change it,” she said. “I think my background is different and perfect for addressing a lot of the needs of this district.”
Lunkenheimer, 43, said she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for almost 10 years, where she prosecuted drug trafficking gangs in Chester and doctors who illegally prescribed oxycodone, among other things. The Media resident most recently served as the senior legal counsel for AmeriHealth Caritas.
During her time as a federal prosecutor, she said, she “saw what happens when individuals don’t have access to health care and good education and don’t have a viable path forward in the sense of being able to get a job.”
In a small-world twist, Lukenheimer was hired as an assistant U.S. attorney by the man she hopes to replace in Congress, Meehan. The Lukenheimer campaign said she worked under Meehan for about a year.
Lukenheimer said she wants to make health care “more affordable” and supports a higher minimum wage, though she declined to say exactly how much it should be increased. “I need to better understand those particular initiatives to come up with a number,” she said.
Lunkenheimer is the daughter of a local power player: Her mother is Molly Shepard, the CEO of the executive coaching firm The Leader’s Edge. Shepard has sat on the board of several city nonprofits.
Since filing her paperwork to run on Friday, Lunkenheimer said she has raised approximately $70,000 from individual donors.
Meehan announced last month that he is not running for reelection after it was revealed that he had used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim by a former aide.
Other candidates in the Seventh District’s Democratic primary include Shelly Chauncey, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer; Daylin Leach, a state senator; Elizabeth Moro, a real estate broker; Daniel Muroff, a lawyer and former city ward leader; Molly Sheehan, a bioengineer; and Greg Vitali, a state representative. Democrat Drew McGinty, an IT professional, withdrew from the race on Friday.