At least six women on Tuesday captured their parties’ congressional nominations in Pennsylvania, virtually guaranteeing that a woman will break into the state’s all-male U.S. House delegation in November.
A record number of women are running for Congress across the country, and they vied for seats in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Lehigh, and Lancaster Counties. Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary for the Fifth District had more women running in it — six — than any other House nomination contest in the country.
Democrats Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Jess King in Lancaster County, and Susan Wild in Lehigh County, as well as Republican Pearl Kim, were among the nominees.
Scanlon, an attorney with Ballard Spahr, won a 10-candidate race based in Delaware County and South Philadelphia. With considerable financial support from her law firm, she defeated two candidates who were bankrolled by super PACs.
Dean, a state representative from Abington, won the Democratic primary in Montgomery County’s new congressional district over former Congressman Joe Hoeffel and gun-control advocate Shira Goodman.
“I’m looking at the faces in this room,” Dean told supporters at a union hall in Fort Washington. “I’m just taken and I can’t believe it.”
Dean will face Republican Dan David, founder of an equities markets research firm called GeoInvesting, in November’s general election. David was uncontested in the GOP primary.
Dean had the financial support of organized labor and EMILY’s List, a group that works to elect Democratic women who favor abortion rights. In a television ad, Dean pitched herself to voters as a “mother, educator,” and “progressive reformer” who would “protect our health care from Trump.”
Citing the gender imbalance reflected in the state’s delegation, she said: “No wonder Congress is a mess.”
Some Montgomery County Democrats had hoped Hoeffel would drop out of the race, saying he had run for office time and again but wasn’t an effective legislator. He disputed that and said healthy competition would make the Democratic nominee a stronger candidate.
Democrat Scott Wallace, a self-funded millionaire, won the party’s primary for the Bucks County-based First District. With 68 percent of precincts reporting, he had a double-digit lead over Rachel Reddick, a young mother and Navy veteran.
In the GOP primary for the First District, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick won the nomination, besting opponent Dean Malik, who campaigned on supporting President Trump.
The general election in the swing district will be one of the most closely watched races in the nation as Democrats try to flip the U.S. House of Representatives from red to blue.
The race is also expected to be expensive. While it will be welcome news to the Democratic Party that Wallace has plenty of cash to spend on the race if he wins – his wealth is estimated to be at more than $100 million – it will likely be used against him by the Fitzpatrick campaign. Reddick argued the multimillionaire was out of touch with the district.
Wallace, however, had the backing of the Bucks County Democratic Committee and other powerful county Democrats. And while this was his first campaign, he is the grandson of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. Wallace also worked on the staff of two U.S. Senate committees early in his career.
Scanlon, an attorney and member of the Wallingford-Swarthmore school board, received a plurality of the votes in the crowded Democratic contest for Pennsylvania’s Fifth District, with of 94 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns.
She will face Kim, who was uncontested in the GOP nomination, in the general election.
The Fifth District Democratic primary was the most expensive in the region. The candidates and outside groups have spent at least $4.1 million, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission. However, candidates have only reported spending through April 25. If they spend all the money they’ve raised since then, that figure will increase to about $5.5 million.
The race for the Fifth attracted more female candidates than any other any congressional district in the country.
Some Delaware County Democrats worried that the numerous suburban candidates would divide the vote and hand the seat to a city candidate.
Scanlon’s opponents included longtime suburban State Rep. Greg Vitali and former deputy mayor and South Philadelphian Rich Lazer. A super PAC for Lazer spent nearly $1 million on TV ads, and Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed him.
2nd and 3rd Districts
In Philadelphia, incumbent U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans both won their primaries, as expected.
They will run against Republicans David Torres and Brian Leib, respectively, in the general election.
A key turning point in the primary campaign came in February, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the congressional map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander drawn to benefit Republicans.
The high court, in a controversial 5-2 decision, tossed the map and drew a new one with the help of an expert consultant. As a result: Democrats’ chances improved in areas where they were already competing, and their prospects expanded to new territory.
Staff Writer Katie Park contributed to this article.