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Rep. Wild’s ‘Deplorables’ Moment: Carbon County Voters Need to be ‘Schooled’ Over Support for Trump

Embattled Democrat U.S. Rep. Susan Wild appeared to insult the intelligence of her own constituents with a comment about the need to “school” Carbon County voters. It was a misstep that quickly inspired comparisons to Hillary Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables” rhetoric believed to contribute to her loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

Wild, considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress, was participating in a virtual meet and greet on July 18 when she made problematic comments. “Carbon County has many attributes, but it is a county that – although it was once an Obama county – it since has become a Trump county,” Wild said.

“I’m not quite sure what was in their heads because the people of Carbon County are exactly the kind of people who should not be voting for a Donald Trump, but I guess I might have to school them on that a little bit.”

In 2020, Trump won Carbon County with more than 65 percent of the vote. This year’s redistricting put Carbon County in Wild’s district — making her race more competitive. Wild’s seat has already been labeled “lean Republican” by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

Republican challenger Lisa Scheller was raised in Tamaqua — not far from the Carbon County line. She took issue with Wild’s remarks on Twitter.

“You are talking down on the type of people I grew up with,” Scheller said. “I am sorry the people of Carbon County can’t afford your liberal agenda that gave us record gas prices and inflation.”

In 2020, Scheller ran against Wild and lost by 3.8 percent. However, Scheller overperformed President Donald Trump by 1.1 points in 2020, according to Samantha Bullock, spokeswoman for the National Republican Committee.

“If Scheller mirrored Trump’s 2020 performance in Carbon County, she would have defeated Wild in 2020 due to her performance in Northampton and Lehigh Counties,” Bullock said.

Approximately 65,000 people live in Carbon County, according to the United States Census Bureau. Of adults older than 25, 17.9 percent have a bachelor’s degree and the county’s median income is $6,000 below the state’s average.

Wild’s snark about Carbon County voters did not sit well with Michael J. Sofranko, mayor of Jim Thorpe, Pa.

“I‘ve never defined myself by who I vote for, and I don’t think most of the voters in Carbon County do that,” Sofranko said. “They vote for who they think can do the best job at the time.”

The borough of Jim Thorpe, sometimes called the “Gateway to the Poconos,” is suffering the same challenges as the rest of Pennsylvania, Sofranko said.

“Most people travel out of Carbon County to work, so when you’re paying high gas prices, that hurts everyone in Carbon County,” said Sofranko.

Democrats have struggled to attract white, blue-collar voters in recent years. President Joe Biden, who Democrats nominated in part for his ability to win the support of those voters, has seen his approval among White men without college degrees drop to 20 percent.

Political pundits attribute it to the perception they look down on these voters. During the 2008 campaign, candidate Barack Obama was widely criticized for comments made at an upscale San Francisco fundraiser about the people living in “small towns in Pennsylvania.”

“The jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Eight years later, Hillary Clinton put Trump voters into “what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.”

Wild’s comments in the same vein are unlikely to help her in November.

When it comes to the town of Jim Thorpe, Sofranki said the people are not defined by the red or blue of politics, but instead,  by their faith, their family, and their friends.

“What I mean by faith is that, we’ve always been the kind of county where everyone might see darkness, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Sofranko said. “Keep working and you’ll get there. Family values are very strong in Carbon County — whatever that family may be, and they’ll always be there for each other. I don’t know where Susan Wild gets off saying she wants to ‘school’ Carbon County.”

Wild declined to respond to a request for comment.

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Southeast PA Key Battlefield In National GOP’s Hopes to Flip House

In Washington, D.C. Republicans only need five more seats to win control of the House. And they could pick up two of them in southeast Pennsylvania, strategists say.

As President Joe Biden’s poll numbers plunge, GOP hopes are rising for pick-ups in PA-6—currently represented by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan—and PA-7, where incumbent Democrat Susan Wild’s seat has already been labeled “lean Republican” by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

At the same time, perennial Democratic hopes of taking out GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the Biden-friendly First Congressional District have largely faded.

According to the data analysis website FiveThirtyEight, redistricting made Wild’s district more difficult to hold. Picking up Berks County was not ideal for Rep. Wild, nor was losing Stroudsburg—a borough in Monroe County that is a Democratic stronghold, said Charlie O’Neill, grassroots programs coordinator for the Leadership Institute.

Wild’s district is now considered one of the state’s three competitive congressional races, including races for an open seat in Beaver County and incumbent Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), according to FiveThirtyEight.

Although Fitzpatrick is a perennial target by the Democrats with his Biden-backing district, Samantha Bullock with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said Republicans feel confident. Fitzpatrick’s opponent, 33-year-old army veteran Ashley Ehasz, has run a lackluster campaign, Bullock said, while Fitzpatrick has survived far more Democratic-friendly election cycles.

Federal Election Commission filings show Ehasz has $77,976 on hand, while incumbent Fitzpatrick has close to $1.4 million.

Wild may have twice the amount of cash as her Republican challenger Lisa Scheller, but veteran Democrat strategist TJ Rooney said this will be a difficult election cycle for the incumbent.

“Folks who have been elected in the last four or six years had nothing but favorable conditions to run as a Democrat,” Rooney said. “This time, the president has a very low approval rating and Americans, by and large, think the nation is heading in the wrong direction.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has both Houlahan and Wild in their “Frontline” program, a sign they believe the seats are at risk. Houlahan apparently believes it, too. Last week she hosted her 60th town hall meeting.

“Of all of the more recently elected members from Pennsylvania, she’s the head of the class,” Rooney said. “She’s done the things at home that will enable her to win this year.”

O’Neill isn’t so sure. Houlahan’s challenger, former Chester County Chamber of Commerce president Guy Ciarrocchi won a tough, competitive primary and is an experienced political player. And his background in the business community gives him credibility on the economic issues dominating this election cycle.

Both Houlahan and Wild voted with Biden 100 percent of the time, FiveThirtyEight reports, not a positive when the president’s approval is around 40 percent in most polls.

“It’s going to be hard for Wild to talk about the pocketbook and kitchen table issues when her president is largely responsible for inflation, O’Neill said.

Wild’s opponent, Scheller, serves as president and chairman of her family’s manufacturing company. She ran against Wild in 2020 and lost by 4 points.

Adding Carbon County and removing the majority of Monroe County will make Wild’s pathway more difficult, Bullock said.

“In 2020, Donald Trump won Carbon County with 65 percent of the vote as opposed to his 44 percent in Monroe County, which is now almost entirely eliminated from the new district,” Bullock said. “If Scheller mirrored Trump’s 2020 performance in Carbon County, she would have defeated Wild in 2020 due to her performance in Northampton and Lehigh Counties.”

Wild also faces a $50,000 ad campaign organized by the Pennsylvania Hispanic Republican Coalition of Pennsylvania targeting Hispanic voters in her district. It is the first Spanish-language advertising from the right in Pennsylvania, according to Chris Mundiath, the group’s chairman.

“We are investing in reaching the Latino community in areas like the Lehigh Valley and Hazleton where we can really make a difference,” Mundiath said. “Democrats will no longer have a stranglehold over our demographic in our commonwealth. We are ready to lead the movement.”

Lehigh County has the state’s largest Hispanic population at 26 percent, according to the Pennsylvania State Data Center. Wild won the county by a 6-point margin.

Back in Chester County, Ciarrocchi laid out a mantra voters are likely to hear again and again between now and November.

“This election is a referendum. If you like $5 gas, paying up to 40 percent more for groceries, rising crime rates, unsecured borders, our children being used as political pawns, and Russia and China growing in power, vote for Congresswoman Houlahan. She supported every single policy that brought us to this dangerous place.”


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‘Stupid as Hell:’ Road Safety Advocates Denounce Rep. Wild’s ‘Zoom Call While Driving’

Zooming while driving is not illegal in Pennsylvania, but a video showing U.S. Rep. Susan Wild careering down roadways while taking part in a Zoom meeting might be a reason to change the law.

As first reported by The Washington Free Beacon, Wild (D-Lehigh/Northampton/Monroe)  appeared to pilot her car erratically as she talked on May 11 to members of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, where she was a guest speaker, via Zoom.

Wild’s miniature poodle, Zoey, rode wide-eyed in the backseat as Wild sped down highways during the conference. Upon realizing Wild was driving during the Zoom call, one of the hosts praised her as the “ultimate multitasker.”

Wild told meeting participants she would be talking to them, but would not be looking at the camera while driving. Wild did not run afoul of Pennsylvania’s Texting While Driving Ban, because it does not include making phone or Zoom calls, but that did not prevent critics from pointing out her dangerous behavior.

Distracted Driving cofounder Joel Feldman and president and CEO Jennifer Smith both disapproved of Wild’s behavior, according to the Free Beacon.

Feldman called Wild’s behavior “stupid as hell.”

In addition to Wild’s Zooming while driving constituting a safety hazard for herself, her pet, and others on the road, Wild was also rude to her audience, according to Florida-based etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore.

“It appears that Rep. Wild was the guest speaker and was clearly not prepared to ‘put her best face forward,’” Whitmore said. “At times she pulled over in an attempt to participate fully in the conference call while at other times she kept driving.”

Wild’s dog in the background could have been another distraction and Whitmore suggested the conference call could have been scheduled for a time in which Wild could give it her full attention.

Wild is not the first elected official to be caught driving while Zooming into a meeting.

Last May, Ohio state Sen. Andrew Brenner used a background filter during a state board meeting while cruising down the street. However, the filter did not hide the seat belt strapped across his chest.

Neither Wild’s office nor the Jewish Democratic Council of America would comment on the incident.

But National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman, Samantha Bullock said Wild’s Zooming-while-driving behavior is not a one-time lapse in judgment.

Four days following the Zoom meeting, the congresswoman gave a commencement speech at George Washington University Law School, her alma mater. During her talk, Wild criticized Professor Jonathan Turley, a respected constitutional scholar, for testifying against the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

“You must be wary of those seeking to use their influence and their expertise to wrongful ends,” Wild said about Turley in her address. “GW Law, for example, has a tenured professor who is, without question, well-versed in constitutional law but has recently made a name for himself on cable news and social media by undermining his own past well-documented scholarship.”

Turley was not present during the speech but he disapproved of the manner in which she aired her disagreement with him.

“The fact that Susan Wild would make the unprecedented decision to use a graduation as a bully pulpit to attack someone politically proves she’s unhinged and unfit for public office,” Bullock said.

In footage by Townhall Media from a May 24 town hall in Easton, Wild also discussed abortion restrictions. Controversially, she said aborting a fetus with mental impairments should be a parent’s choice.

“If you had this situation in the third month of pregnancy, and you found out your child was going to have Down syndrome, different sets of parents are going to respond differently,” Wild said. “Honestly, I believe that is their choice.”

According to Bullock, from engaging in a Zoom meeting while on the road to turning a graduation speech into a chance to deliver political barbs, Wild’s behavior points to selfishness.

“Susan Wild is in the midst of a midterm meltdown, making one bizarre decision after the next because she thought she could destroy her constituents’ lives in the name of partisan politics and never be held accountable. She was wrong,” said Bullock.

Wild, a freshman legislator, faces hurdles with her reelection due to redistricting. She again faces Republican businesswoman Lisa Scheller, who she bested by four points in 2020.

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