Home Local News GOP hopefuls outline credentials in 7th District race for Congress

GOP hopefuls outline credentials in 7th District race for Congress

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SPRINGFIELD >> With the district lines suspended in bureaucratic ambiguity, Delaware County Republicans postponed nominations in the 7th Congressional District Monday night and hosted a forum featuring six GOP candidates seeking the seat.

The position opened up after U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, decided not to seek re-election in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal that unfolded last month.

Speaking to a crowd of 300 at the Springfield Country Club were candidates Joe Billie, a veteran and volunteer firefighter from Aston; attorney Jeremy H. Gonzalez Ibrahim; former state Attorney General senior deputy counsel Pearl Kim of Radnor; tax attorney Greg McCauley of Chadds Ford; former Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Putnam Pozos of Radnor; and Haverford developer Wally Smerconish. Radnor Township Commissioner Richard Booker, who was said to be at a township commissioners meeting, is also interested in the race.

Sean Gale, brother of Montomgery County Commissioner Joe Gale, has also expressed interest in the position although that may be impacted by the new district boundaries.


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Officials said state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park, and Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood were no longer interested.

What the actual 7th District will look like remains uncertain after the state Supreme Court ordered districts to be redrawn after a lawsuit alleging gerrymandering. GOP legislative leaders submitted a new map on Friday. However, Democrats including Delaware County Democratic Committee Chairman David Landau and state Reps. Margo Davidson, D-164 of Upper Darby, Brian Kirkland, D-159 of Chester, Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Greg Vitali, D-166 of Haverford, have asked Gov. Tom Wolf to reject GOP plan.

A statement released Monday from Landau, Davidson, Kirkland, Krueger-Brankey and Vitali said in part:

“The Republican leadership would have been better off claiming that the dog ate their homework … The map proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, and House Speaker Mike Turzai preserves Republicans’ tilted 13-to-5 congressional district advantage and manages to target two of Democrats’ strongest congressional challengers. There is so much bad faith in this proposed map that we could laugh – but we refuse to join in Republicans’ mockery of the most sacred principles of American democracy.”

Delaware County Republican Chairman Andrew Reilly said a nomination meeting is preliminary scheduled for Feb. 20 with an endorsement anticipated on Feb. 27. However, that is tentative on where the boundaries of the district will lie.

“What you saw was, what we believe, was an activist rogue Pennsylvania Democratic Supreme Court not only throw out the maps but then decided, ‘Hey Pennsylvania House, Pennsylvania Senate you have 15 days to draw the maps and if you don’t do it, we’ll do it,’” Reilly said.

Wolf has until Feb. 15 to approve or reject the redrawn districts.

Joe Billie is a Navy veteran who did tours in Bosnia and Somalia, and 30-year volunteer firefighter who works for a paper-making company and proudly supports President Donald Trump.

Born and raised in Folcroft, Billie said he’s been working on this campaign for two years.

“I feel it’s my duty again to serve my country. I see what’s happened with the VA and it infuriated me,” he said. “As I started talking to people with health care, immigration, the problems are just getting worse and worse and Congress isn’t really doing it.”

The daughter of South Korean immigrants, Pearl Kim is a special victims prosecutor who worked on combatting human trafficking, who also spent almost a decade as an assistant district attorney in Delaware County.

“I was able to effectuate reform in Pennsylvania and I want the opportunity to effectuate reform in Washington,” she said, adding that her dream is to serve in public service at all levels, having served at the county and state level and now reaching for the federal.

A Radnor committeewoman and cancer survivor, she said she is willing to self-fund a significant amount for her campaign, while highlighting her accessibility to Asian Americans.

A friend of Meehan, Jeremy Gonzalez Ibrahim is an attorney who has experience in prosecuting and defense. He received a presidential nomination and U.S. Senate confirmation to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Department of Justice Foreign Claims Settlement Commissioner.

“What I’m hoping to do … is to bring jobs whether it’s domestically from companies or internationally from companies into our district,” he said. “Our district is very but that’s no reason to not take advantage of the quality of life that’s here, the quality of education that’s here, the housing, to keep building a stronger district.”

Greg McCauley is a tax attorney who has owned and operated nine Wendy’s restaurants with his brothers. He said he set up his own practice in the Philadelphia area after tiring of commuting to New York for 10 years.

“I’m going to be an outspoken, vocal advocate for Republican policy,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be like Meehan “and sit back and let Democrats come out, get on TV, espouse their position without vigorous rebuttal.”

Wally Smerconish, brother of radio host Michael Smerconish, has developed more than 1 million square feet of commercial and residential projects in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“I don’t agree with people who say this country is broken – it’s not,” he said. “It’s always been a work in progress. There’s no place like it on Earth.”

Ivy League alum Clare Putnam Pozos quit her job as Assistant U.S. Attorney Friday so she could pursue the race. There, she served as a member of the Narcotics and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for nine years.

“I love this community,” she said, adding that she is a third-generation Delaware County resident, raising her own family here.

She explained she loved her job as a prosecutor serving the most vulnerable. “I think I can serve this community even better by working in Congress,” Pozos said. “This district needs a fresh face – a new Republican voice who can help us get into the future. We’re tired of political grandstanding and partisan bickering. We want results.”

Democrats who are running for the 7th district seat include former CIA intelligence officer Shelly Chauncey, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Lunkenheimer, Realtor Elizabeth Moro, former House chief of staff Dan Muroff, bioengineer Molly Sheehan, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Vitali. Drew McGinty and Paul Perry have withdrawn from the race and state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17 of Lower Merion, has suspended his campaign following reports of inappropriate joking and sexual harassment.



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