As if one crisis facing the country wasn’t bad enough, state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-District 17) sees four.
Enough so that he was propelled to formally announce his run for Congress earlier this summer.
In a video, Leach unveiled his campaign for Pennsylvania’s 7th District — which contains most of Delaware County, with portions of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster counties, and is occupied by Republican incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan — and outlined the democracy-threatening crises he sees: the economy, politics and GOP President Donald Trump. The fourth would be climate change.
He was initially reluctant to join the race, he said, but added his name to five others who had already announced they were running in the Democratic primary next year.
“I found that we were, as a nation, increasingly facing a series of crises that I could not ignore because they pose sort of existential threats to basic things about America,” he said.
On his laundry list of what he’d fight for in Congress are bills addressing income inequality, a voter bill of rights, ending voter suppression and gerrymandering (the 7th District was named one of the nation’s 10 most-gerrymandered districts by The Washington Post), health care and green technology.
Another big one is education, an area the Jewish legislator said has touched him personally.
“Education saved my life as the child of a single mother and who was in foster care for years and had very difficult experiences,” he explained. “Education gave me a way out and gave me a new life, and everyone should have that opportunity.”
Many may not know he’s Jewish, he said, pointing to his un-Jewish last name. He had his Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Sons of Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Allentown.
He’s been endorsed by Democratic Jewish Outreach PA, which supports Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania who best reflect Jewish values.
“It’s always good to have the voice of someone who understands the Jewish community in Congress,” he said, adding he cares about larger issues such as Israel and anti-Semitism.
As for Trump, there’s probably only so much he can do, but his views on the president are hardly masked.
In February, after Trump threatened to “destroy” the career of a Texas lawmaker, Leach took to the president’s favorite medium and tweeted at him, calling him a “fascist, loofa-faced sh**-gibbon,” which quickly went viral.
Hey @realDonaldTrump I oppose civil asset forfeiture too! Why don't you try to destroy my career you fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon!
— Daylin Leach (@daylinleach) February 7, 2017
Leach believes having a voice in Congress that will speak out against the president can only help.
While there are Republican voices that have opposed Trump’s actions, he said, few are in Congress.
“The people in Congress have sold their soul — for a tax cut, I guess — and they’re afraid of [Trump’s] base and they say nothing,” Leach said. “When Donald Trump says, ‘Why can’t I arrest reporters who write bad stories about me?’ and you say nothing, I don’t understand why you would want to be in Congress, what your purpose there is.
“On the substantive issues and also on the willingness to stand up to this creeping authoritarianism, these are very significant issues,” he added.
Leach called Meehan “an affable guy,” but noted he differs with his voting record on issues such as climate change and health care.
Meehan campaign spokesman John Elizandro told PoliticsPa last month, “We welcome [Leach] and the other five left-wing Democrats looking to challenge Congressman Meehan to the race, and look forward to the exchange of ideas.”
Leach has already begun the 15-month path toward the election and getting on the ballot.
“I represent a quarter of the district now in my Senate seat,” he noted, “but three-quarters of the district is new in terms of my representation, and you have to introduce yourself to people you don’t know and who don’t know you.”
He’s spent time throughout the district, attending fundraisers and area events.
“I spend a lot of time in the car, but the good news is I’m listening to a lot of books on tape, so I’m becoming very smart,” he quipped.
He’s built a volunteer base who will, as it gets closer, start door-knocking and phone-banking, among other things.
“After Election Day, we pivot from working for local campaigns and sort of introducing myself around generally to talking more specifically about our campaign,” he said.
Until then, you can find Leach continuing to speak — or tweet — his mind.
“I feel like I have very few gifts in this world,” he said, “but one of them is a certain flair with words, so I’m gonna use that to try to continue to focus people on how just insane and wrong much of this is.”
If no one else enters, Leach will face Andrew McGinty, Elizabeth Moro, Dan Muroff, Paul Perry and Molly Sheehan in the primary.
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