In the race for the 13th Congressional District seat, wheels are beginning to turn, and not exactly in the same direction.
Five candidates participated in a bipartisan forum hosted by Democracy Unplugged at the Abington Free Library on April 16. Democrats taking part were state Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh. Republican candidates Dee Adcock and Beverly Plosa-Bowser were also in attendance.
After coexisting in several forums over the last few weeks, the candidates seem like they’re growing comfortable enough to throw jabs at one another, and collectively at former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, who has not yet joined a bipartisan debate. Margolies’ campaign appears to be based on a healthy budget and her political connection to former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed her campaign at a fundraising event on April 10.
“It seems as if the Washington D.C. establishment is supporting Mrs. Margolies in this race, and I think they have it dead wrong,” Boyle said, eliciting laughter from the small audience.
Leach, who had been most critical of Margolies in past debates, joined in.
“I’ll debate people in the audience if they want,” he said. “Since I made a remark earlier tonight about people who don’t show up and don’t debate and don’t answer questions, it would be hypocritical if I didn’t show up to debate anyone who was on the ballot.”
Though Boyle and Leach found agreement on the Margolies issue, there were moments of tension between the two, who seem to be striving to separate themselves within their shared party.
Leach, a self-proclaimed “progressive champion,” used an audience member’s question regarding the candidates’ stances on abortion to criticize Boyle’s past support of the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill, which is understood by many as a backdoor means of preventing abortion clinics from operating by placing needlessly strict structural and staffing requirements on them.
“I figured you would be prepared, since it was your campaign that asked the question, but go ahead with your litany of attacks,” Boyle said in response to Leach’s criticism. “Frankly, I’m not interested in having another 50-year war where people running for office use this issue for their own political benefit rather than women’s health.”
Though most prominent, this tift between the two Democrats was not the only one of the night.
Arkoosh, who was about a half-hour late for the event due to a scheduling mishap, candidly responded to their disagreement by suggesting that petty arguments come about when “career politicians get involved in these decisions.” She cited her own experience as a physician to underline her position as “an advocate for women’s health.”
“Val always mentions career politicians, which I always find odd because there are no career politicians in this race. Marjorie served two years, Brendan’s been in five and I was in my 40s before I entered politics,” Leach said. “It’s sort of a weird attack.” ••