Lehigh Dem Chair Daughtery Faces Stiff Primary Hurdle in Pa-15 Bid
Rick Daugherty, Chairman of the Lehigh County Democratic Committee, has entered the 2012 race to represent Pennsylvania’s 15th District in U.S. House of Representatives. He filed the necessary signatures last week.
Daugherty, a lifetime Lehigh Valley resident, declared his candidacy for U.S. Congress in summer 2011.
Daugherty graduated from Moravian College with a bachelor’s degree in social work and now works as the executive director for the Lehigh County Senior Center —a place that perhaps inspired him, along with recent developments in Washington D.C., to jump into the political world.
According to The Morning Call, Daugherty felt compelled to run for U.S. Congress after House Republicans, Dent included, backed legislation that would have changed Medicare.
He echoed that in a chat with PoliticsPA.
“My base of support will be among seniors,” he said. “People who support Medicare, Democrats and Republicans – it’s possible to pick up both.”
Many of political pundits within the Lehigh Valley has suggested that Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan would also enter the race for a rematch (Dent defeated Callahan by 12 points in 2010). But according to Democratic sources, Callahan appears more likely to pursue the position of Northampton County Executive.
The newly drawn 15th district is even friendlier to the Republican, giving up Democratic Easton in exchange for deep rep voters in parts of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties.
And before Daugherty would take on four-term incumbent Republican Charlie Dent, he faces a stiff challenge to win the Democratic nomination.
Daugherty’s primary competition comes from Jackson Eaton, a veteran and lawyer by trade, who crossed party lines back in November 2011 so he could challenge Dent.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee singled out Eaton when it called Pa-15 an “emerging race.” The designation is not an official endorsement, but does make it easier for Eaton to consolidate support.
Daugherty said the DCCC’s decision was financial, and not permanent.
“The issue is money,” said Daugherty. He raised virtually no money between announcing his candidacy and the end of 2011, and has about $4,000 in debt.
He cited his focus as Chairman on the 2011 municipal elections, and said his fundraising effort began in earnest at the new year.
Eaton reported over $90,000 on hand at year’s end. Dent reported $354,000 on hand.
Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.