Debate roundup: Scheller, Dellicker agree on many issues but not abortion
Russia, China, gun laws among other topics discussed at GOP debate for 7th Congressional District candidates
Republicans Lisa Scheller and Kevin Dellicker discussed Russia, China, abortion laws and more at their first debate Friday in the race for the Republican primary for the 7th Congressional District seat now held by incumbent Democrat Susan Wild.
Scheller, who lives in Allentown, is making her second try at running in the 7th Congressional District. She lost to incumbent Democrat Susan Wild in 2020.
Scheller, 62, is chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing, an aluminum pigment manufacturer based near Hometown, Schuylkill County. She is a former chair of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners.
Dellicker, 51, a resident of Heidelberg Township, is a National Guard veteran. He owns Dellicker Strategies, which assists businesses and organizations, mainly school districts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with their broadband internet access and cybersecurity.
The primary is May 17.
The debate on policy issues at Northampton Community College was sponsored by the Northampton County Republican Committee. It was moderated by Terry Tracy, a co-founder of Broad + Liberty Inc., a Philadelphia-based nonprofit media enterprise and public policy think tank.
Below is a roundup of topics and answers, edited for length and clarity. You can watch the debate here.
On the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Scheller: She said Putin is a despot and a thug and is responsible for what is happening in Ukraine right now. She said President Joe Biden and Wild have fueled the war by buying oil from Russia. She said, “Russia is really a gas station with an army. We cut off the oil, we cut off the war.” She said she does not support a no-fly zone, saying “we cannot put American troops in harm’s way.”
Dellicker: He said Biden’s remark that Putin should not remain in power is an indication of how he continues to struggle with gaffes on a world stage. “You have to make sure when you say something like that, that you are prepared to do something.” Dellicker does not support a no-fly zone and said the U.S. must make sure it doesn't get pulled into direct conflict with Russia. He said sanctions must hurt Russia’s economy and stop its ability to wage war too.
Dellicker: He called the Chinese Community Party the greatest threat to the U.S., saying the country has committed genocide against its people and has stolen U.S. technology. “Yet we continue to do business as usual.” He brought up Scheller’s “ties to China,” saying Silberline has operations in China and is opening a new factory there in 2023. He also said Scheller spoke out against former President Trump’s trade deal with China. (During a public hearing in Washington, D.C., in 2018, Scheller asked that spherical powder used by Silberline be eliminated from the deal’s new tariff list because it wasn’t available in the U.S. and that China’s product was of a higher quality than other powders.) He noted that her comments ended up in a Chinese publication.
Scheller: She said China poses a significant threat to the U.S. security. She said, “No one will be tougher on China than I will be.” Scheller said Silberline is 100% American owned and is not in an ownership partnership with China. She said Silberline is a global company that exports to 87 nations. She said Silberline invested more than $20 million in a new plant in Schuylkill County. She said she accepted the tariffs imposed under Trump’s trade deal. She repeatedly said she would be tough on China. Because of her experience in doing business in China, she said, “I know the Chinese, I dealt with them and I understand them.”
On a balanced budget amendment and tax hikes
Both said they support a balanced budget amendment and are opposed to raising taxes. They both blamed Biden and Wild for inflation, saying it was caused by massive covid relief spending and big spending by Democrats.
Both said that Pennsylvania’s Act 77, which allows no-excuse voting by mail, was a mistake.
Dellicker: He said that Republicans must be elected to repeal the law, which is now under review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He said Republicans need to be vigilant in making sure the 2022 election is fair.
Scheller: She said she knows first-hand the impact of Act 77, saying she was ahead of Wild on election night in 2020 but ended up losing when the mail-in votes were counted. She said she would oppose House Bill 1 in Congress, which would allow automatic and same-day registration and vote by mail and early voting and limit the removal of voters from rolls.
Both are ardent supporters of the Second Amendment and support HR 38 – the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows eligible individuals to carry concealed firearms in other states and prevents states and local laws restricting concealed carry rights.
Candidates answered the following ways on specifics measures:
Does human life begin at conception? Both said yes.
Do you support a federal law making it a crime to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectible unless life of mother is at stake? Both said yes.
Would you support a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which would overturn Roe v. Wade)?
Dellicker, yes; Scheller, no.
Would you vote to ban the RU 486, a pill used to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks?
Scheller, no; Dellicker, yes.
Would you vote to allow abortions if the health of the mother is in question, but her life is not in danger?
Dellicker, no; Scheller, yes.
Would you vote to allow abortions in case of rape or incest?
Scheller, yes; Dellicker at first said no, but then said he would if that was the best way to get an anti-abortion bill through Congress.
Should transgender women play on all-female college teams?
Scheller: She said she isn’t sure what the role of Congress would be in these cases, but said allowing transgender women to play in women’s sports is “destroying the dreams of young women.”
Dellicker: He said it’s “ridiculous” to allow transgender women to compete on female teams and said the bigger issue is the “idea that you can have a choice in your gender.”
Gasoline prices, energy
Both blamed Biden and Wild for rising gasoline prices and advocated for energy independence.
Scheller: She called the proposed Green New Deal a disaster and supports opening up Pennsylvania’s energy reserves, saying it could support the U.S. for 200 years.
Dellicker: He said Democrats are forcing energy-saving policies instead of letting market demands allow them to happen naturally.
To see more photos from the debate, go to the website of photographer Donna Fisher.
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