Former Lehigh County Commissioners square off in primary race for GOP nomination in Lehigh Valley’s 7th Congressional District

Written by on May 28, 2020

Former Lehigh County Commissioners square off in primary race for GOP nomination in Lehigh Valley’s 7th Congressional District

By Chloe Nouvelle

May 28, 2020

Photo | Chloe Nouvelle / WLVR

Two former Lehigh County commissioners are facing off this Tuesday for the chance to run as the Republican candidate against incumbent Lehigh Valley Congresswoman Susan Wild. 

WLVR’s Chloe Nouvelle has a look at the race between the former commissioners. 

Republican congressional hopefuls Dean Browning and Lisa Scheller may have more in common than major differences – both tout their business experience -and cite second amendment rights and the economy as top priorities. 

Dean Browning is a retired business executive. He’s  worked for Coca-Cola bottling company of the Lehigh Valley, harvel plastics and new world aviation.

“My purpose in running is I want to take my business background, where I’ve been involved in situations where I’ve had to identify problems, clean up messes, some of them of own making, develop solutions and then work to get those implemented. I think that is a skill set that we need in Washington.”

Lisa Scheller is the chairman and president of her family’s manufacturing business Silberline, headquartered in Tamaqua.

“I am a business person, an engineer by education, I’m not a not a politician. And what has motivated me to run is for the first time I really have the feeling that our American dream is threatened.”

The June 2 primary winner will eventually compete against Democrat Susan Wild to represent the 7th district. Wild’s only served one term so far, as part of a blue sweep of Pennsylvania women elected to congress. 

Since taking office, Wild has focused attention on issues like healthcare. The representative has introduced bills focusing on mental health and suicide prevention

Browning and Scheller oppose Wild’s support of medicare for all — she was a co-sponsor of the measure in 2019. But both say they do support protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Scheller says the current healthcare system just doesn’t work.

“It is not affordable, it is not accessible. It is something that is, and I know, the people, the folks in Pennsylvania’s 7th district, they really do care about this issue. And they want to see affordable, accessible health care, and it’s something that I am dedicated and committed to working on.”

Browning says he wants to see pricing transparency and an expansion of health savings accounts.

“We need to make sure that all Americans have access to affordable quality health care. The way that we go about doing that though, rather than having a government approach Medicare for all, in my opinion, the best way to do that is we’ve got to move to a system where individuals and families are in charge of their health care decisions, not insurance companies and not the government.”

The candidates also say they’re 2nd Amendment supporters. And the NRA has given them each AQ ratings — signifying they’re supportive of gun rights but don’t have a legislative record on the issue.

“I am an absolute advocate of the 2nd Amendment, and we’ll fight for that, both to preserve our existing rights and to expand it,” said Browning. 

“I will work with our president to help protect our Second Amendment rights as well,” said Scheller.

Jobs and the economy are also issues Browning and Scheller highlight in their campaigns. It’s a topic on many people’s minds as tens of millions of Americans are out of work as a result of the pandemic.

“As a business owner, myself, I really understand that because I’m faced with the same challenges that many businesses are being faced with. So what I would say about that is what I would want to work on, in Washington, is getting our economy back on track. Keeping taxes low because keeping taxes low helps to create jobs and boost our economy, making sure Americans get back to work and our economy begins to grow and get back to where it was just a few months ago,” said Scheller.

“I think that we need to have a temporary suspension of the payroll tax both for employees and employers. Right now… if we provide a temporary holiday for that, that will immediately give employees an additional 8 percent take home pay that goes right

into their pocket, and will also reduce the costs for businesses, many of whom are small businesses will result in an 8 percent reduction in their payroll costs,” said Browning. 

Subtle differences on top issues may set the candidates apart for some voters, but for others it may come down to name recognition – or endorsements. And Lisa Scheller recently got a big one: President Donald Trump tweeted his support of her candidacy last week. 

While that could make a difference for some Lehigh Valley voters, Browning says he doesn’t believe the president was personally involved in the recommendation.

Watch Chloe’s PBS39 News Tonight Report.


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