This Democratic district was projected to be Rep. Joe Sestak’s to keep until he decided to bow out and defeat Sen. Alan Specter in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Now the seat is up for grabs. Bryan Lentz, a veteran and prosecutor, hopes to hold the seat for Democrats. But he’s facing a tough competitor in Republican Patrick Meehan, a former U.S. Attorney.
Candidates for Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes most of Delaware County and is made up of western suburban Philadelphia including King of Prussia and Drexel Hill. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Bryan Lentz
Political experience: Lentz has served in the Pennsylvania state house since winning election in 2006.
Professional experience: Lentz is a former Philadelphia prosecutor and Army Ranger in Iraq.
Key issues: Lentz feels that a part of the economic recovery plan should consider Wall Street accountability. He’d like to see, as part of his economic plan seen on his website, a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect against predatory lending practices, subprime mortgages and payday loans. The legislation has already gone through the House and is on its way to the Senate. He also feels the credit rating system needs reform to prevent lending to risky projects.
He is supportive of a Workforce Development Act to help active-duty National Guard and Reservists receive job training.
Endorsements: Retired Gen. Paul Eaton and Sestak, the district’s current representative, endorse Lentz.
Chances of winning this seat: Lentz is facing a possible GOP tide and has a funding disadvantage working against him as well. His opponent, Meehan, has $1,123,551 of funding to work with to Lentz’s $785,935, according to OpenSecrets.org. The district, however, has a popular incumbent and leans toward Democratic candidates.
Candidate: Patrick Meehan
Political experience: Meehan is a former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, serving from 2001 to 2008.
Professional experience: After stepping down as a U.S attorney, Meehan joined the law firm of Conrad O’Brien Gellman & Rohn.
Key issues: Meehan would fight any tax increase on the middle class, he suggests on his website, opposing so-called stealth or hidden taxes. He thinks a new Value Added Tax as a national sales tax on goods and products is a bad idea that would strangle manufacturer and business ingenuity and cool the economy further. He wants to eliminate waste and abuse in the federal government, a cause he claims he has personally fought and prosecuted as a U.S. attorney.
Additionally, he’d like to champion improved transportation for the district, in particular roads, bridges and other transit systems. He thinks high-speed rail and capital-intensive project funding would improve port and freight connectivity. To do so, he would reduce red tape and streamline regulatory structures. He wants revenue generated locally to stay local for community projects.
Endorsements: Meehan has been endorsed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and the Chester County Chamber.
Chances of winning this seat: While the district race could be considered a toss-up, Meehan faced no opposition in his primary, meaning he’s been able to hone in on his opponent, Lentz. He’s tried to tie Lentz to the unpopular policies of the Democratic Party, and it’s a policy that could work. Without independent polling to reference, it remains difficult to say if he’s prepared to overtake the Democratic candidate yet, but signs point to close election. The district’s race may eventually prove to be a race to watch to see how Republicans fare nationally.
Key Differences between Patrick Meehan and Bryan Lentz
Jobs: Lentz wants to create jobs through a Capital Investment Tax Credit, establish a fiscal commission to erase the deficit and stabilize both Social Security and Medicare, and help develop education, training, green-energy and infrastructure jobs. Meehan is against tax increases; he wants to see tax increases on small businesses done away with, as he says that’s the wrong approach in dealing with the current economic crisis. He thinks investment in the region’s highways, mass transit, water and sewer systems makes sense to help create immediate jobs and improve the community.
Health care: Having watched the health care debate, Meehan suggests that there are a number of better reforms possible. He thinks individuals, small businesses and trade associations should be able to pool together to buy portable insurance across state lines, insurance that can be kept from job to job. He’s for tort reform, reducing Medicare fraud and waste and wants to see accelerated health information technologies to allow doctors to share information easier. Lentz agrees that eliminating waste, fraud and abuse throughout the system is a good plan and he feels health care costs are unsustainable. He’d fight to make sure that all Americans can keep their current doctor and he’s for stopping discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions.
Energy: Lentz feels that energy independence is closely tied to our national security and that high gas and home-heating prices require alternatives. He’d provide tax cuts for companies that explore solar, wind and geothermal energy options. Meehan also feels new ways to heat and cool homes is important, though he doesn’t discuss specific new technologies. He’s also for energy independence, but says he favors long-term tax credits and development incentives as part of his approach to financing new energy.
Pennsylvania‘s 7th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Pennsylvania 7th District is located in southeastern Pennsylvania just outside of suburban Philadelphia.
2008 results: Democrat Joe Sestak beat Republican Craig Williams 60 percent to 40 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 82.9 percent of the district is white, 8.8 percent black, 2 percent Hispanic, 4.9 percent Asian, and 0.1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Pennsylvania 7th District a rating of D+3, awarding an edge to Democratic voters in this district.