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Are DelVal Dems Hidin’ From Biden?

When President Joe Biden came to Cleveland on Wednesday to tout his success at keeping Americans on the job, it apparently hit home with one prominent Democrat: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan was too busy to show up for Biden’s speech.

Ryan, who is in a tough race against Republican J.D. Vance, had “a busy campaign schedule with prior commitments,” his spokesperson told Roll Call.

Ryan wasn’t the only one. The Democrats’ candidate for governor of Ohio, Nan Whaley, was also a no-show for Biden’s appearance.

It’s part of a national trend. Last week, Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanbeger, when asked if she wanted the president to campaign for her in her swing district, told Fox News, “I intend to do the campaigning myself.” And prominent progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) created headaches for the White House with her recent remarks that if Biden runs for re-election she may not support him.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Still, Biden is determined to stay on the campaign trail and the head of the Democratic Legislative Campaign told Politico she hopes he will campaign with state legislative candidates in the coming months.

“We have a great relationship with the Biden White House,” said chair Jessica Post. “So we hope that translates into seeing President Biden out campaigning for us, for state legislatures.”

In Pennsylvania, where 54 percent of voters have a negative view of Biden, that may be wishful thinking — even in the blue environs of the Delaware Valley. While gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro insists he would welcome the president to join him on the campaign trail, the question is whether other Keystone State Democrats feel the same.

Delaware Valley Journal reached out to seven Democratic candidates for both state House and Senate across the region, asking if they would be willing to appear with Biden. Only one responded.

“With the national attention on this election, I am confident that public officials from both parties will be visiting our area,” Ann Marie Mitchell, Democratic nominee in state Senate District 6 in Bucks County, said in a statement.

She added she hopes that and other efforts by her team will lead to higher voter turnout and engagement in the campaign, but declined to say whether she would appear with Biden if given the chance.

The other six candidates contacted included incumbents like state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery) and state Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten (D-HD155), and challengers like Cathy Spahr in House District 160 (Delaware/Chester), and Jill Dennin in Senate District 24 (Montgomery/Bucks/Berks).

“When it comes to Democrats in tough elections, I guess Joe Biden doesn’t ‘have a friend in Pennsylvania,'” quipped GOP strategist Charlie O’Neill. “And who can blame them? Running with Joe Biden this election cycle is like starting a baseball game down 10 runs. Nevertheless, Democrats nominated him, and they have to defend his record. So whether they want to or not, all Democrats on the ballot have to contend with Biden’s lack of success.”

Biden convincingly carried the Delaware Valley in 2020 while outperforming down-ballot candidates and winning some of the districts Democrats hope to flip this November.

However, Biden today is more unpopular than he was in 2020. In a new Harvard/Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans said they do not want him to seek a second term. And a new Civiqs poll put Biden’s approval rating nationwide at just 30 percent.

In 2020, Democrats wanted Biden to be more visible and prominent with their slates of candidates. Now, hoping the fight over abortion will boost their chances in November by energizing their base, Democrats, at least in the Delaware Valley, won’t say if they will appear with the president.

Biden has endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and pitched his candidacy in Philadelphia to an AFL-CIO convention. Still, Fetterman has not said whether he would welcome a chance to campaign with the president.


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Rep. Craig Williams Campaigns With Senate Candidate Dave McCormick

Republican state Rep. Craig Williams teamed up with U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick to knock on doors Saturday in the Garnet Valley neighborhood of Chadds Ford.

Williams said he enjoys meeting his constituents in person and typically knocks on more than 2,000 doors during his campaigns.

“My favorite part (of campaigning) is knocking on doors,” said Williams.

McCormick also enjoys talking to potential voters and has made in-person campaigning, whether knocking on doors or pressing the flesh in diners and American Legion halls, a trademark of his campaign.

Rep. Williams and Dave McCormick, along with volunteers pose with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. A TV commercial shows McCormick riding his Harley Davidson Fat Boy. And when the weather is nice, he often rides it around Pittsburgh.

“I love it, I mean, I love it,” said McCormick. “If you knock on 10 doors and talk to one or two people, you get the connection.”

McCormick likes to hear voters’ opinions, telling him what they like or hate.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “I love it. I love being with (Williams). He’s a great guy. This is a great part of Pennsylvania that I need to spend more time in. I’m really devoted to spending time here in the southeast. It makes sure my message is out there.”

And it was a family affair, with McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, who was a deputy national security advisor to former President Donald Trump, accompanying him and Williams’ 12-year-old son, Cole, also along, as well as campaign volunteers and staff.

McCormick, who is vying for the lead in the Republican Senate primary race with television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and commentator Kathy Barnette, also has ads blanketing television screens, either from his campaign or a Super PAC that supports him. A former hedge fund CEO, he comes across as a down-to-earth, regular guy.

“I hope to get your vote,” he says to homeowners after a brief exchange and introduction from Williams, who has an app that tells him which houses belong to registered Republicans. Only Republicans or Democrats can vote for their respective candidates in the May 17 primary.

“We’re still really undecided,” homeowner George Kent, told the Delaware Valley Journal after shaking hands with Williams and McCormick and listening to their pitches.

Dina Powell McCormick, Cole Williams, Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick.

His wife, Debbi Kent, said, “He keeps saying, ‘the stakes are high,’ and we agree. We want the best person in the Senate, and I was very unhappy (with Sen. Pat Toomey). I want to learn more.”

She was “surprised but appreciative” that McCormick came to her door. “That shows he’s serious and wants to meet the people.”

Another resident, Joe Dailey, said that he was from Bloomsburg but did not know McCormick, who went to high school there when his dad was president of Bloomsburg University and chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.  The family also owns a Christmas tree farm nearby that has been featured in McCormick’s TV commercials.

McCormick, 56, graduated from West Point, where he was on the wrestling team and served in the first Gulf War with the 82nd Airborne. He also served in several positions in the George W. Bush administration, including as Under Secretary of the Treasury, and he holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Princeton. In the private sector, McCormick was CEO of a software company in Pittsburgh and most recently held the CEO post at Bridgewater Associates.

During a talk at a VFW Post in Bensalem, McCormick said the Biden administration’s botched handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal led to his decision to run for the Senate.

“I’ve seen his ads,” said Dailey. “I’m a big fan of his. I like what he has to say. And Craig (Williams) is the best guy we’ve ever had here. Good luck to you guys. I will vote for you.”

Williams (R-Chadds Ford) also served in the military. He spent three decades in the Marines, retiring as a colonel.  The two candidates bantered about which of their rival branches of the service was best as they walked the neighborhood.

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