Republican congressman Charlie Dent, ’93G, announced in September 2017 that he would not seek re-election in 2018 for Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District. After the Jan. 22 redistricting, Dent’s seat — which he had filled since 2004 — became vacant under a new name.
The newly formed 7th district encompasses three competitive counties — Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton.
As a testament to that competition, both parties waited late into the night to hear the results of their primaries. Susan Wild ultimately claimed the Democratic bid a little after 10:30 p.m., while Marty Nothstein was not confirmed as the Republican winner until just before midnight.
Wild, the first female Solicitor of the City of Allentown and a progressive candidate endorsed by Emily’s List, faced her greatest competition against John Morganelli, who has been the district attorney for Northampton County since 1992.
Wild differed greatly from Morganelli on issues of the second amendment and immigration, where she took more liberal stances.
In his concession speech, Morganelli admitted he was not overly surprised with the result. He said the Democratic party has moved further to the left than he had imagined. He wanted to be the common sense voice for the middle ground.
Nothstein, who brings an outsider status to the political sphere as an Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist, is a proponent of the second amendment, an advocate of term limits in Congress and a critic of Obamacare.
His opposition, Dean Browning, a former Lehigh County commissioner, was within a percentage point of the lead all night. The primary was one of the closest contests of the night.
Nothstein acknowledged the closeness of the vote in his speech and advocated not only for a unified Republican party, but also a more collaborative political environment across party lines.
After the tight primary elections, a six-way race for the Democrats and a marathon contest between two Republican candidates, both parties will have to regroup and get behind their winners as they face a competitive district in November.
Northampton county will continue to be a part of the race. The county narrowly elected now-President Trump by 3.4 percent, a smaller margin than those who voted for third party candidates.
In these 2018 primaries, Northampton favored Morganelli and Browning, two losing candidates.