It’s been a busy week for the three candidates for Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. From Sunday to Thursday, Democrat Susan Wild, Republican Marty Nothstein, and Libertarian Tim Silfies participated in their three final debates before the election for the open seat.
Wild and Nothstein often took shots at the other for trying to scare and lie to the voters, while Silfies painted the picture of a broken political system.
In the second of three forums, Tuesday night the candidates made rather pointed attacks at the other in an hour long debate broadcasted live on PBS39 from a lecture hall on Northampton Community College’s Bethlehem campus.
Nothstein opened up this debate touting his record while jabbing at Wild by trying to connect her to former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison earlier that day.
“I’m the only person here who has cut property taxes, protected seniors. That’s a record I’m running on,” Nothstein said according to the Morning Call. “Susan Wild’s government experience? Well, he was sentenced to 15 years today.”
Wild, the former City Solicitor under Pawlowski for a period of time, was not implicated in that FBI probe. She later fired back at Nothstein by stating his criticisms were “exactly the kind of untruths that nobody in politics should tell,” stated in the Morning Call story.
The election is “a choice between repealing the Affordable Care Act, or standing up for those with pre-existing conditions,” Wild said.
Nothstein described the television ads that Wild is running stating that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act and doesn’t want to protect those with pre-existing conditions as “lies and smears.”
Silfies branded himself as the candidate against “the establishment” and believes both candidates have engaged in too negative of a tone in the race.
“I can’t turn on the television without seeing either one of them smashing each other,” Silfies said, according to the Morning Call, that one is depicted as a monster who wants people to die, and the other a communist who belongs in prison. “Both of these things probably aren’t true.”
These attacks continued during Thursday’s final debate at Gracedale Nursing Home, organized by the League of Women Voters. At the 90 minute forum, Nothstein continued to pin Wild’s career to Pawlowski, while the candidates shared their opinions on issues such as health care, Social Security, gun control and President Donald Trump.
Wild criticized Trump for the GOP tax reform bill, while Nothstein says he’s talked to more “construction workers and truck drivers” who are benefiting from it and being able to partake in more family trips with the extra money.
On Social Security, the Morning Call reports that “Wild suggested raising the wage cap so that higher earners pay in proportion to their income, Silfies suggested looking at a means test and raising the retirement age,” while “Nothstein called for repealing taxes on Social Security.”
On Sunday, the candidates engaged in a 90 minute forum at the Jewish Community Center in Allentown, organized by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
While debating the topic of hate crimes, Wild shared sharp criticisms on Trump for the way he handled the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA last year, that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer.
“The president equivocated and, rather than condemning neo-Nazis, he alluded to there being fine people on both sides,” said Wild according to the Morning Call. “To me, that’s plain wrong. It sends the wrong message to the American people.”
Nothstein agreed that hate was wrong, but pointed the finger back at Wild wondering why there isn’t the similar moral outrage when Louis Farrakhan has compared Jewish people to termites and other slurs.
“I would like to ask my opponent Susan to go on the record condemning them without condition and condemn the officials of the Democratic party that support it,” Nothstein said according to the Morning Call.
Silfies believes that stopping hate crimes begins in communities.
“Rather than a right-left thing, I think there is plenty of hate to go around,” Silfies said according to the Morning Call. “I think that, really, the solutions … are less about what government can do and more about what we can do.”
In another rare display of commonality, the three candidates agreed the need for the United States to support Israel.
Nothstein advocated for a two-state solution and believes it will only work if “Palestinians wanted it” to work. Wild argued that only a negotiated agreement between the two parties “will achieve lasting peace” and the U.S. can’t impose any solutions, but encourage peace. Silfies, the lone Libertarian, who vouches for staying out of conflicts unless attacked, but said Israel is different and encourages a two-state solution, according to the Morning Call.
For further in-depth coverage of each debate, here are the links of recaps from various news outlets.
Morning Call: PA-7 candidates tangle in first of three debates this week
Morning Call: At PBS39 congressional forum, Susan Wild and Marty Nothstein accuse each other of not telling the truth
Morning Call: Candidates for Congress trade barbs in League of Women Voters forum at Gracedale