Last night, primary voters in Pennsylvania rejected a Pro-Trump Democrat with a well-established track record of demonizing and scapegoating immigrants. In the PA-07 primary, longtime local District Attorney John Morganelli, who had proudly supported Trump’s anti-immigrant push and touted his work with Kris Kobach, lost a competitive primary to local attorney Susan Wild.
The results in PA-07 and elsewhere again remind us that Democratic candidates in purple and red districts and states don’t benefit by adopting anti-immigrant positions or bowing to the politics of fear. In contrast to Morganelli, the successful Democratic candidate Conor Lamb in the recent PA-18 special election did not run in a competitive Pennsylvania district by embracing hardline anti-immigrant policies. When faced with a barrage of anti-immigrant attacks from Republicans, Lamb remained focused on his key issue priorities, dismissed the politics of fear, and maintained his support for legal status for undocumented immigrants and protections for Dreamers.
According to Matt Hildreth, Political Director of America’s Voice:
The politics of anti-immigrant fear mongering had a bad night in Pennsylvania. Thanks largely to the great work of groups like Emily’s List and Next Gen America, Democratic voters in Pennsylvania Seventh Congressional District rejected a candidate with a long established anti-immigrant track record in John Morganelli. Despite Morganelli’s prominence in the district, he was only able to muster 30% support in the competitive primary. However, at the same time, Republican voters chose a Senate nominee with a notorious anti-immigrant record in Lou Barletta — who himself underperformed against a candidate with little name recognition. Now, the distinction between the parties have been clearly drawn.
The Pennsylvania primary sets the stage for what we expect to see nationwide in November. Democrats are running on a positive, inclusive vision of America that reaffirms our commitment to ‘liberty and justice for all.’ Meanwhile, Republicans will double down on ugly politics of scapegoating and fear mongering, similar to what we saw in VA and NJ races in 2017, aimed to turn neighbors against each other. That strategy failed, but we have no doubt it will be the centerpiece of the campaigns of Barletta and others around the nation.