Decision 2020: Scott Perry vs. Eugene DePasquale (PA-10)

Nick Silvis ’23

Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, which encompasses all of Dauphin County as well as parts of Cumberland County and York County, is one of the most competitive congressional elections in the country.

The race pits Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s current Auditor General, against incumbent Republican Representative Scott Perry. DePasquale, as the current fiscal watchdog and former state representative, hopes that his experience investigating governmental agencies and eliminating fraud and abuse from Harrisburg will win over moderate Republicans and Independents. Perry, who has represented the district since 2013, has largely endorsed President Trump’s platform and is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus (Hullinger).

The district itself has an interesting history. Redrawn in 2018 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the Republican drawn map as unlawfully biased towards Republicans, the district includes Harrisburg, York, and Carlisle which tend to vote more democratic. The district also encompasses broad swaths of rural PA and is deemed a statistical dead heat by the Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball while Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales reports the area as tilting Republican (Ballotpedia).

In many regards, PA-10 is a microcosm for the country writ large. The district’s urban areas have become more Democratic while the rural areas are steadfast Republican. DePasquale is relying on his humble background and personal struggles, stating “it’’s time we had people in Washington who understand struggle.” Similarly, Vice President Biden’s campaign focuses on personal tragedies in an effort to persuade a divided and hurt nation. Representative Perry, however, is utilizing a playbook similar to President Trump and says that he’s “fighting to protect American values and freedom, not turn us into a socialist nation.” Both candidates have been publicly backed by their respective presidential nominees.

PA-10 Democratic candidate Eugene DePasquale. Bciccocioppo, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The suburbs of Harrisburg and York seem of particular importance. DePasquale’s mission will be to pair his strength around York with impressive performances in the Harrisburg suburbs both in Dauphin County and across the river in Cumberland County.

He has to surpass his 2016 numbers when he was campaigning for Auditor General in places like Camp Hill, Hampden Township, Mechanicsburg, Susquehanna and Swatara townships. The term-limited auditor general can also help himself by building on the job Tom Brier did in Hershey in the primary (Rulinger).

Perry on the other hand has both the incumbency and financial advantage. The incumbency advantage is not to be overlooked. Incumbents tend to win as high as 98% of the time and re-election rates have rarely dipped below 90% (Opensecrets).

PA-10 Republican incumbent Scott Perry. Wikimedia Commons, U.S. House Office of Photography.

Donations have poured into the district from outside sources with both candidates raising between $1.5-2 million.  Perry has outspent DePasquale on the airwaves since the June 2 primary, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics, about $604,000 to $165,000. Altogether, DePasquale and Democratic groups have spent $1.1 million on TV since the primary, compared with $608,000 by Perry and Republican groups (Ballotpedia).

Overall, the race for PA’s 10th district is shaping to be one of the most important and contested elections in 2020. Both DePasquale and Perry have strong support and this race will be one to watch come November.

Sources:

Ballotpedia. “Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District Election, 2020.” Ballotpedia, ballotpedia.org/Pennsylvania’s_10th_Congressional_District_election,_2020.

Center for Responsive Politics. “Reelection Rates Over the Years.” OpenSecrets, www.opensecrets.org/elections-overview/reelection-rates.

Hullinger, Logan. “DePasquale Poll: Race for Pa. 10 Is Tight.” York Dispatch, York Dispatch, 7 Sept. 2020, www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/04/depasquale-poll-race-pa-10-tight/5714940002/.

Ruland, Sam. “Eugene DePasquale Wins Bid to Take on Scott Perry for 10th Congressional Seat.” York Daily Record, York Daily Record, 9 June 2020, www.ydr.com/story/news/2020/06/02/eugene-depasquale-tom-brier-compete-primary-for-scott-perry-seat-november/5286598002/.

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