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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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‘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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DelVal Representatives Tout Money to Fix Area Bridges

Many Pennsylvania bridges—including some in the Delaware Valley–need to be rebuilt or repaired. And federal money toward those repairs will be forthcoming as part of the recent $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill that all area congressional representatives voted for and President Joe Biden signed into law.

In fiscal year 2022 the state will receive more than $327 million in federal funding for bridge work, Congresswomen Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) and Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) announced at a recent Zoom press conference.  The money is part of the $1.6 billion that Pennsylvania will receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

“Anyone who has ever driven around the Greater Lehigh Valley can attest to the urgent need for this bipartisan law to start improving the roads and bridges that our community uses every day,” said Wild. “This funding will fundamentally improve the health and safety of our community, and I couldn’t be prouder to have helped make it happen.

Houlahan said, “Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation for the number of bridges in poor condition (3,353 to be exact). So to say we will benefit from the newly announced Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding is an understatement, especially after the flooding and destruction we experienced as a result of Hurricane Ida, our municipal leaders and union crews are ready to rebuild. This investment will benefit our entire Commonwealth, and it was one of the proudest votes of my career to help get this across the finish line.”


U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick speaking.

When asked to comment, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), one of only 13 House Republicans who voted for the bill, said, “The bipartisan, physical infrastructure bill is a victory for not only the people of Pennsylvania, but for the entire country. For far too long, the federal government has created the crisis of deteriorating roads and defunct bridges, in desperate need of repair.

“I am happy to see that the Department of Transportation has begun to implement the bipartisan physical infrastructure package and that Pennsylvania will receive $327,178,593 in Fiscal Year 2022 through the Bridge Formula Program for bridge replacement, rehabilitation, preservation, protection, and construction throughout the commonwealth. Pennsylvania will be allocated $1,635,892,965 in bridge funding over 5-years, and I look forward to working with PennDOT and our local communities on full implementation of these critical infrastructure investments,” Fitzpatrick said.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.) is also stoked about the bridges.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon

“Bridges are vital to our infrastructure — critical to our daily commutes, emergency vehicles, and the trucks that make deliveries to our stores and homes,” said Scanlon. “Here in Pennsylvania, we have thousands of bridges in poor condition that threaten to divide our communities if not addressed. The funding provided by this legislation will help accelerate long-overdue bridge projects across PA-05 and the commonwealth.

“I am excited about what it means for our community to have the opportunity to address projects like replacing the bridges on Wanamaker Avenue over Darby Creek or addressing noise abatement along I-95. The projects funded through this legislation will create good-paying jobs, pave the way for decades of economic growth and prosperity, and better position the United States for success within an increasingly competitive global economy,” she said.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) did not respond to a request for comment, although she also voted for the bill.  However, area planning commissioners and PennDOT have projects waiting in the wings for the promised funds.

Nationwide, the Bridge Formula Program is expected to help repair approximately 15,000 bridges. In addition to providing funds to states to replace, rehabilitate, preserve, protect, and construct highway bridges, the Bridge Formula Program has dedicated funding for Tribal transportation facility bridges as well as “off-system” bridges, locally-owned facilities which are those not on the federal-aid highway system, officials said.

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