A look at incumbent Susan Wild
Democrat seeks third term in Congress.
Democrat incumbent Susan Wild is seeking her third term as the representative in the 7th Congressional District.
Her district includes Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties and in Monroe County, Eldred and Polk townships and about half of Ross Township.
Wild, who lives in South Whitehall, started the year with $1,705,721 in cash on hand, according to her latest finance report filled with the Federal Election Commission.
That compares to $1,005,977 for Republican Lisa Scheller and $100,252 for her May 17 primary challenger Kevin Dellicker.
Wild was born on June 7, 1957, in West Germany while her father Norman Leith, an Air Force officer, was stationed there. His career meant frequent moves for the family. Her mother Susan Stimus Ellis was a newspaper reporter.
Wild graduated from American University in 1978 and earned a law degree from George Washington University in 1982. She married and later divorced Russell Wild. They have two adult children.
Wild was a partner in Allentown the law firm Gross McGinley. She became Allentown’s city solicitor in 2015 and served for two years. Her time in the part-time post coincided with an FBI raid that led to the conviction of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and others for what was described as a “pay-to-play” scheme.
The Morning Call reported that Wild was credited by the FBI for her help in securing city documents needed for the investigation.
Run for office
Wild’s first foray into politics came when she ran for Lehigh County commissioner for District 2 in 2013 but lost to longtime Republican incumbent Percy Dougherty.
Wild ran for Congress when Republican incumbent Charlie Dent announced in 2017 that he would not seek an eighth term in the 15th Congressional District in 2018. During redistricting, the Lehigh Valley became part of the 7th district.
Wild ran against Republican Marty Nothstein, an Olympic track-cycling gold medalist and former Lehigh County commissioner, defeating him with 55.3% of the vote to Nothstein’s 43.5%. Libertarian Tim Silfies picked up 3% of the vote.
Wild, who also defeated Nothstein in a special election in 2018 to fill the remaining two months in Dent’s 15th District term, became the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley.
During her second run for Congress in 2020, Wild faced Republican Lisa Scheller, a former chairperson of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners and current chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Co., a global manufacturer of aluminum pigments based near Hometown, Schuylkill County, where Scheller grew up.
Wild defeated Scheller 51.9% to 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.
Time in office
Wild has been described by national media as being among the “moderate” House Democrats.
She describes herself as an “independent-minded member of Congress” who is focused on serving all her constituents regardless of their political leanings. She said she is a fighter for the working class.
In Congress, Wild serves on the committees on Ethics, Foreign Affairs, Education and Workforce, and Science, Space and Technology.
She has introduced 51 pieces of legislation, including the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named for a physician who committed suicide after a long stretch of treating covid patients. The bill, which was recently signed by President Biden, establishes grants and requires other activities to improve mental and behavioral health among health care providers.
She was also responsible for securing $140 million in mental health funding for health care workers and first responders under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that passed in 2021.
Wild’s role on the Foreign Affairs Committee has put her in the media spotlight as a result of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which she called “a barbaric war of choice.”
Wild was among a bipartisan delegation that went to the border of Poland and Ukraine on March 4, where she said she fully supports the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She held a roundtable discussion with the American Ukrainian community in the Lehigh Valley on Feb. 27.
Support of Biden agenda
FiveThirtyEight said Wild has voted in favor of Biden’s agenda 100% of the time from January 2021 to January 2022.
Those yes votes include strengthening the Voting Rights Act, approving the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and Build Back Better, protecting the right to an abortion and health care providers’ ability to provide abortion services, establishing Washington, D.C., as a state, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, increasing the waiting period for federal gun background checks and requiring background checks for all gun sales.
Jan. 6, 2021
Wild was photographed taking cover on Jan. 6, 2021, when the Capitol building was breached by Trump supporters as a joint session of Congress was getting ready to formalize Biden’s winning electoral votes.
She later voted with fellow Democrats to authorize the Jan. 6 select committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol Complex.
Wild joined Democrats in voting to impeach President Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of justice on Dec. 17, 2019. She also voted with Democrats to impeach Trump for incitement of an insurrection on Jan. 13, 2021. The Senate failed to convict Trump of any of the charges.
Democratic and progressive support
In the past Wild has been supported by Emily’s List, which aims to elect pro-choice Democratic women, Planned Parenthood, the environmental group Bold Action, Everytown Gun Safety, End Citizens United, Common Defense, a progressive veterans group, and People for the American Way, another progressive organization, among other groups.
Wild lost her partner Kerry Acker to suicide in 2019.
She has made improving access to mental health care one of her top priorities. She has introduced legislation to address suicide rates on college campuses and to make mental health care easier for families to access. Her bill to provide mental health screenings for senior citizens was signed into law in 2020 under President Trump as part of the Older Americans Act.
Coming this week: profiles of Republican candidates Lisa Scheller, Wednesday; Kevin Dellicker, Friday
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