With Election Day approaching on Nov. 7, some United States citizens believe the nation’s situation in Washington might influence local elections in the Lehigh Valley.
Several elected officials do not plan on seeking re-election when their terms expire. Specifically Charlie Dent, the Republican representative for Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, will not run for re-election when his term ends in 2018.
Some see this as the start of a national trend, rooted in local officials’ frustrations with the current administration.
J. William Reynolds, Bethlehem City Council president, said Dent has expressed frustration about the inability of politicians to compromise or do the “people’s business.”
“I think it’s a little bit early to know whether there will be a lot of people who decide not to run for re-election,” Reynolds said. “But I think there is a sense out there that the government in Washington is not working.”
Bethlehem mayor Robert Donchez said this problem arises from political officials leaning too far to the right or too far to the left.
“I think today, if you’re too far to the left and if you’re too far to the right, you basically have gridlock, whether it’s on a local level, state level or national level,” Donchez said. “If you’re leaning too far toward one side, you’re not going to accomplish anything for your district and I think that’s the most important thing — to get things done.”
Anthony DiMaggio, a professor of political science, said Dent is generally concerned about the Republican party’s shift in the far-right wing direction, which isn’t ideal for people like Dent who are considered moderate Republicans.
“There is this feeling that moderate Republicans don’t have as much of a place in the moderate party because it has gone in such a conservative direction economically,” DiMaggio said.
This feeling puts pressure on representatives like Dent to take up more conservative politics.
DiMaggio said part of this disturbance arises from President Trump himself.
“(Moderate Republicans) feel that (Trump) is not a traditional Republican, he’s just sort of some showman or something,” DiMaggio said. “It seems pretty clear from what I’ve seen in the election cycle that a lot of the Republican party is not comfortable with him, but they have sort of tolerated him because they think that maybe they can get things done with the Republican party.”
Reynolds thinks citizens who are active in the political process will become more engaged in the upcoming elections.
“This tends to happen any time you elect a president, Democrat or Republican,” Reynolds said. “The next election is usually a tough one for the sitting party of the president. I think you’ll often find a lot of people who can’t wait to go out voting against the president’s party.”
Reynolds said his local call to action against Washington doesn’t come as a surprise, considering two-thirds of Bethlehem citizens voted against Trump in the 2016 election.
Reynolds said he’s seen a great deal of local action in response to the current state of Washington.
“You will see more and more cities like Bethlehem or local municipalities trying to solve problems that they think aren’t being solved in Washington,” Reynolds said.