Lisa Scheller makes second bid to represent 7th Congressional District
But first faces challenge in GOP primary
Republican Lisa Scheller is making her second try at running in the 7th Congressional District. She is facing Republican Kevin Dellicker, a technlogoy company owner, in the May 17 primary.
The district includes Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties and in Monroe County, Eldred and Polk townships and about half of Ross Township.
The district leans +4 Republican now that Carbon has been added and most of Monroe County eliminated under a newly drawn map, according to FiveThirtyEight, which analyzes political data.
Carbon County is a quick car ride to Hometown, Schuylkill County, where Scheller grew up and where Silberline Manufacturing, her family’s aluminum pigment company, is located and employs 160 people.
As of March 31, Scheller of Allentown had $1,244,908 in cash on hand, after raising $414,302 in the first three months of 2022, according to her April quarterly report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Scheller raised more than 10 times the total of Dellicker’s campaign, which showed $32,450 in contributions and $23,466 in expenses.
Meanwhile, incumbent Democrat Susan Wild, who is unopposed in the May 17 primary, maintained a large fundraising advantage over either possible GOP candidate.
Wild ended March with $2,353,061 in cash, up from $1,705,3321 at the beginning of the year.
Scheller was born in May 1959 to Ernest Scheller Jr. and his wife Roberta.
Scheller has a bachelor’s degree in math from University of Colorado, Boulder, and a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Lehigh University.
She worked at Unisys and Sperry Corporation before becoming data processing manager at Silberline in 1987.
Ten years later, after the sudden death of her brother Ernest Scheller III, she became president and CEO of the company founded in 1945 by her immigrant paternal grandfather.
Scheller has been chairman and CEO since 2017.
The company employs about 160 in Pennsylvania and 500 worldwide. It has manufacturing plants and/or offices in the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, China, Mexico and Singapore.
In 2019, the company closed a plant in Decatur, Indiana. The same year, Silberline expanded its facilities in Hometown to allow for the production of pigments that are compatible in water-borne coating systems, which are more sustainable.
The company is also opening a new plant in China in 2023, according to CEO magazine.
Scheller, who is twice divorced, has two grown children. She again has pledged to donate her congressional salary to veteran causes in the Lehigh Valley.
Entry into politics
In 2011, angered by a 16% tax hike, Scheller ran and won an at-large seat on the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. In the primary race, she was among three Republicans who targeted incumbent Republican Dean Browning over his support of the tax hike and won seats.
The next year, she and the Republican majority lowered the tax hike by 4.8%, a number that was reduced to 3% when the board failed to override a veto.
In 2014, the board cut taxes again to an amount that equaled about $8 per person.
Scheller was among the Republican majority who questioned accepting more than $1 million in federal Community Development Block Grants, some of which would go to nonprofits such as Meals on Wheels. She said nonprofits should look to increase their private fundraising.
Scheller was named chairperson of the board in 2013. She decided not to seek a second term because of time issues with her business.
First 7th Congressional District race
In 2020, Scheller ran in the June 2 primary for the 7th Congressional District seat where she defeated Browning with 52.1% of the vote. The primary had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Nov. 2 general election, Wild defeated Scheller 51.9% to Scheller’s 48.1%.
The race took place amid the global covid pandemic and a presidential election year that saw Democrat Joe Biden defeat incumbent Republican Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, helping secure Biden’s overall win. No-excuse, mail-in voting had been allowed for the first time under Act 77, which had been approved by the Republican controlled state Legislature in 2019.
In January 2021, Scheller announced she would make another try at defeating Wild.
Trump, Republican support
In 2020, Scheller was the only Republican congressional candidate in the Pennsylvania primary to be endorsed by then-President Trump.
In September 2020, Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. and an organizer of the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the breach of the U.S. Capitol complex, appeared at a Women for Trump campaign event with Scheller in Palmer Township.
Also in September 2020, Scheller’s campaign organized a “Defending Your Freedoms” rally with the group Trump Victory in support of the Second Amendment.
It was held in North Whitehall Township at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, which is owned by Bill Bachenberg, who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 House Select Committee over his role as chair of a group that signed a certificate declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.
In February 2021, Scheller was a guest speaker with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, at the Lehigh County Republican Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Breakfast.
Boebert, whom Trump said is a defender of his platform, is a gun rights advocate who once said she hopes the conspiracy group QAnon is real as it “means America is getting stronger and better.”
Scheller was endorsed on March 8, 2022, by Trump’s former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, whose commentary praising Russian President Vladimir Putin as “talented,” “savvy,” and “capable” has been used by Russian media. She was also endorsed by Republican Trump defender U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s E-Pac.
Lisa Scheller describes herself as “a trailblazer in the world of business and a successful reformer in public service, embracing both roles with a sense of humanity and purpose.”
On her campaign page, Scheller said she wants to “stand up to the woke cancel culture that is threatening our First Amendment rights.” She supports school choice, saying the 2021 elections showed parents want to be involved in their children’s education.
Ukraine: Scheller condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She said Biden took too long to ban Russian oil and petroleum products, and supports expanding drilling in the U.S. She wants to regain energy independence.
Biden agenda: Scheller is opposed to Biden’s agenda, which she points out is supported by Wild. She said the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that is now law does not address the real needs of communities. She said the move to make Washington, D.C., a state is part of a ”radical left agenda” to grab power. She said Biden’s “disorganized” withdrawal from Afghanistan led to the Taliban’s rapid rise of power.
Second Amendment: Scheller is a member of the National Rifle Association who posts photos of herself holding firearms. In 2020, the NRA said it supports her because she favors concealed carry reciprocity legislation, opposes a ban on semi-automatic firearms and magazines and opposes a universal background check system, among other things.
Economy and taxes: In July 2021, Scheller signed a no-tax-hike pledge for Grover Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform. Scheller said she wants to cut spending to slow inflation, which she said is forcing mothers to choose gas over food.
Covid: Scheller called the $1.9 trillion covid relief package that was passed in March 2021 a “socialist boondoggle.” She is against mask mandates. In 2020, she told Lehigh University’s Brown & White that her company followed federal recommendations, including social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitizing and temperature checks.
Abortion: Scheller believes human life begins at conceptio, she supports a federal law making it a crime to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectible unless the life of the mother is at stake. She would not support a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She would not vote to ban the RU 486, a pill used to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks. Would vote to allow abortions if the health of the mother is in question, but her life is not in danger?
Climate change: Scheller told the Brown & White that “I might even tell you climate change is real … and I might even say some of it is manmade.” She said the best way to approach it is through technology, free market enterprise and reasonable regulations.
Mail-in-voting: In 2020, Scheller strongly urged senior voters to vote-by-mail to keep them safe during covid, setting up a special web page to help them.
CRT: Scheller said she wants to stop primary and secondary schools from teaching critical race theory, a concept that has been taught in law schools for years and examines how racism impacts political and legal policies.
In 2018, Scheller revealed she is a recovered addict who began drinking at age 11 and later used heroin. She entered into a treatment program at 22 and has remained sober.
Also in 2018, she founded Hope & Coffee in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, a nonprofit coffee shop and meeting place that seeks to bring persons recovering from alcohol and drug dependency back into the job market.
Scheller has long funded programs at Lehigh Carbon Community College. They include the Lisa Jane Scheller Technology Scholarship, which provides LCCC tuition to students of Lehigh Career and Technical Institute and Carbon Career and Technical Institute.
She also funded the Roberta and Ernest Scheller Jr. Family Foundation Scholarship, which provides scholarships to LCCC graduates from Tamaqua Area High School who pursue further education at four-year colleges in Pennsylvania.
Our profile of Republican candidate Kevin Dellicker will run Friday. The story about Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild was published Monday and is available here.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe for free to receive new posts about Lehigh Valley politics.