Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) officially launched a campaign to challenge Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryPennsylvania Democrat Eugene DePasquale wins House primary Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries House Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states MORE (R-Pa.) on Monday, setting up what could be a contentious 2020 battle in the state’s 10th congressional district.
If he wins the Democratic primary, DePasquale would present a formidable challenge to Perry. The district went for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in 2016, but DePasquale won his reelection bid for auditor general that same year.
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Pennsylvania Democrats have expressed optimism about the district since it was redrawn following the state Supreme Court’s ruling that the previous lines had been gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.
DePasquale’s candidacy is another sign that Pennsylvania Democrats are getting in an offensive position after Trump flipped the state red in 2016.
DePasquale is expected to face attorney Tom Brier (D) in the primary.
The auditor general told The Hill in an interview that he plans to home in on health care costs, insurance and economic issues negatively affecting the middle-class community in his district.
“I have a very good pulse of what’s going on in the community,” DePasquale said. “I think that makes me well-suited to first of all take on the challenge to win but to also be a good member of Congress if I’m honored with winning the election.”
News of DePasquale’s campaign launch comes after Democrat George Scott, who nearly unseated Perry in 2018, announced he would not seek the district in 2020.
Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, won reelection in 2018 by less than 3 points.
However, Trump’s own reelection bid could drive Republican turnout for Scott next year.
Pennsylvania’s Republican Party responded to DePasquale’s candidacy on Sunday, seeking to paint his political ambitions in a negative light.
“Egregiously, DePasquale has been a fraud and a failure as auditor general, holding himself out as an independent fiscal watchdog, all the while jet-setting across Pennsylvania while expensing taxpayers for nearly $100,000 as he used his official office to boost his personal political profile in advance of this congressional announcement,” the party said in a statement.
“In 2016, I was the only statewide candidate in probably 20 or 30 years that was endorsed by both the state chamber of commerce and organized labor,” DePasquale told The Hill, responding to the state GOP’s statement. “It does seem the timing of these attacks does seem to be rather interesting.”