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PA-6: Costello, Trivedi Spar in Fiery Debate

Costello-TrivediThe contest for retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach’s congressional seat grew even more heated this weekend, as Republican nominee and Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello and Democratic nominee and Iraq War veteran Manan Trivedi met for their first debate.

Held in the Allentown studios of WFMZ 69 on Friday afternoon and broadcast on Saturday evening, the forum was the first real chance for the voters of the 6th district to get a look at the two candidates.

The debate was moderated by anchor Rob Vaughn.


The first subject, like it has been in other recent debates, concerned the Ebola outbreak.

“We need to provide a certain coherence,” Costello said, critiquing the response of Washington to this and other issues.

Trivedi drew on his own experience as a doctor and talked of how he would hope to “calm the widespread panic and inform the decisions that are made in Congress.”

He also called the chances of an Ebola pandemic as “very, very low” and criticized the cuts in funding to the CDC and other forms of health research.

“Clearly intelligent budgeting is part of it”, Costello conceded. “An across-the-board cut, indiscriminately, makes no sense.”

Costello also supported a travel ban on commercial flights from West Africa while Trivedi struck back at this position.

“This is the problem with politicians making decisions about healthcare,” Trivedi said. He called the travel ban “counterproductive”.

The Democratic nominee went on to point out that the country currently doesn’t have a Surgeon General because Republicans blocked the President’s nominee under pressure from the NRA. Trivedi then asked Costello how he squares that group’s support for him with the public health crisis.

“You’ve now devolved this into a political blame game,” Costello responded.


The conversation then moved on to ISIS and foreign policy.

Trivedi tackled the subject first, where he made clear he didn’t think the President had done enough. “What I haven’t seen from the Administration is a strong plan to really root out ISIS where they are,” he said.

He believes any plan for ISIS should incorporate the lessons from the country’s Iraq experience and have benchmarks and an exit strategy.

“If that takes boots on the ground, so be it,” he even said at one point.

Costello responded by thanking his opponent for his service and called for listening to the country’s military leaders and having the legislative branch lead this debate rather than the executive branch.

Defense Spending

The candidates were then asked about whether we should be slimming down the military in light of our current challenges.

Costello talked about Congress not passing budgets and getting by instead on continuing resolutions.

Trivedi accused Costello of avoiding the question, “I’m looking forward to answering your questions and not offering platitudes.” He then went on to attack waste in the Defense Department.


The focus of the forum then shifted to domestic policy and the economy.

Trivedi started by asserting that Costello had praised Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

“That’s actually not true,” Costello injected. Trivedi countered that Costello did praise the Ryan Budget in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

(In a press release sent to reporters after the debate, the Trivedi campaign provided the basis many of the candidate’s statements. Concerning Costello and the “Ryan Budget”, while it’s clear the GOP nominee spoke highly of at least parts of the plan, the actual word “praised” was used by the Inquirer and not Costello.)

The Republican called for balancing the budget and cited his experience on the Chester County Board of Commissioners.Then, eighteen minutes in, Costello finally took a shot at Trivedi.

“My opponent, this is now his third run for Congress, every two years he trots out more and more of the far left talking points that is criticism upon criticism but is not actually about solving the problems.”

“Let’s call a spade a spade here,” Trivedi responded, before asserting that his opponent raised taxes while on the Board of Commissioners.

After Trivedi accused Costello of “Washington talk”, the latter fired back.

“There’s no Washington talk coming out of this side of the table,” Costello said. “You’re the one that lives and works in Washington, D.C.”

Budget Deficit

Finally, the candidates were asked about something they support but still feel needs to be cut.

Trivedi turned the issue around to Paul Ryan’s plans for Medicare.

“Answer the question! You’re speaking in platitudes!,” the Republican shot back using Trivedi’s words from earlier in the debate against him.

“Ease up there, Ryan. I know you get excited sometimes but ease up there buddy,” the Democrat responded. “I’ll tell ya, I can talk about healthcare till everyone’s blue in the face here.”

Vaughn then pointed out that Costello’s website contains a heading titled “Replacing Obamacare” and asked if that was his position. Costello stated that he felt “we need to fix it” instead.

“Who better to fix it than a physician that knows healthcare?” Trivedi asked.


The debate ended with closing statements from each candidate.

“Look at both of us, look at our records, look at what we’ve done with our lives. Look at our careers, look at what we stand for and make your decision,” Trivedi stated.

“What we need in Washington, D.C. is common sense and we need folks that want to get to yes, not find a way to say no,” Costello concluded.


Congressional races are notoriously difficult to track because there is little if any public polling. Recently, though, political forecasters Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik categorized the race as “Safe Republican.”

Both candidates came into the debate as if they thought that to be the case.

Trivedi immediately tried to hammer his opponent, while Costello seemed content to lay back. To give a football analogy, the Republican seemed to playing prevent defense and allowed his counterpart to make short plays in the hopes of avoiding any big errors and at the same time run out the clock.

As the event went on, however, Costello began to battle back. It’s hard to tell whether Trivedi’s shots got under his skin or, like anyone that plays prevent defense, he realized he was giving up too much ground.

Altogether, despite this being the shortest debate I’ve seen so far this year, it was also the most contentious and is a worthwhile watch for the voters of the commonwealth’s 6th congressional district.

6 Responses

  1. Costello appears to come from the same mold as do many other back bench “water carriers”. After Trivedi referred to Costello as a career politician climbing the ladder, Vaughn reminded him that they were both trying to climb the ladder. I thought that was a ludicrous thing for a “moderator” to say since Trivedi does not hold any office, but other wise I enjoyed the passion for a change.

  2. Senator Leach lives in the 7th Congressional District, not the 6th.
    He has resided in the 7th since at least 2002, if not longer.

  3. Observer, I think you’re colorblind. The only time this district is even remotely “purple” is during a Presidential election year, when turnout is higher. And Daylin isn’t in the 6th anymore, not that he’d be any more successful. Don’t agree that there was anything the DNC, the DCCC, or even George Soros himself could have done for this go-round. 2016, however, may be a different story. Especially if Costello votes along party lines for the next two years.

  4. The DCCC and DNC really dropped the ball in this district. here you had a deep purple district, despite the gerrymandering, with NO incumbent running, and they did nothing. They could have recruited Daylin Leach to run here, who would have cleaned costello’s clock, and they did nothing. They could have spent a minimal amount of money to raise the candidate profile of this doctor who is an Army Vet, and they did nothing. Can’t wait for the Obama Incompetents to be kicked out of the DNC after it is too late.

  5. Not sure what your point is there, 13th?
    The sad thing is that Trivedi would be a great guy to have in the House, and instead the voters in the terribly gerrymandered 6th District are going to send a twerpy career water-carrier who will basically do what he’s told by the party bosses. Certainly a worthy successor to Gerlach, who pretty much did the same.

  6. | Trivedi accused Costello of avoiding the question, “I’m looking forward to answering your questions and not offering platitudes.” He then went on to attack waste in the Defense Department.

    May be the most hilarious point of this article.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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