FILE - PA Lisa Scheller, Susan Wild

Republican challenger Lisa Scheller (left) and U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa.

(The Center Square) – Fiscal hawk Lisa Scheller looks to unseat first term Democratic Rep. Susan Wild in Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district this November.

Wild – who carried the region by 10 percentage points in 2018 – must hold onto the more moderate redrawn district that encompasses Lehigh, Northampton and parts of Monroe counties.  

Although Democrats carry a small lead in registered voters there, the blue collar region has seen a shift in political dynamics over the last four years that make it a prime seat for Republicans to regain in November. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee seems to think so, at least.

“Lisa Scheller’s candidacy is the latest sign that PA-07 voters want no part of Susan Wild’s socialist agenda,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams told the Morning Call last year. “Wild’s embrace of socialized health care and her efforts to throw President Trump out of office will make her a one-term congresswoman.” 

Scheller runs Silberline Manufacturing Co., an aluminum pigment maker founded in 1945 by her grandfather in Schuylkill County. It employs 600, including more than 160 residents in Pennsylvania alone.  

She also served one term as a Lehigh County Commissioner, during which she held the line on property taxes, controlled spending and re-involved the board in contract negotiations with the county’s public sector unions.  

“It marked an important step toward making government more accountable to the taxpayers who support it, while reducing political pressure on the county’s negotiator,” she said. 

Scheller’s hoping her commitment to reigning in taxes, conservative spending policies and job creation will sway voters unnerved by Wild’s “socialist agenda.” Though, she promises to work across the aisle to achieve her goals.

“The problems we face today aren’t Democratic or Republican problems,” she said. “They are challenges facing people of every background and belief. They cut across partisan lines and we can only solve them by cutting across those same lines and working together.” 

Wild’s campaign rejects Scheller’s attempt to align her with her party’s more progressive element, noting that she voted against the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May because “it was crammed too full” and “dead on arrival in the Senate.”

“I have no concerns about speaking my mind or taking my vote in whatever way I feel guided to do so,” Wild said. 

She’s also been critical of Gov. Tom Wolf’s economic restrictions enacting during the pandemic, particularly regarding limits on real estate agents and restauranteurs. The administration relaxed its prohibition against in-person home showings in May after pressure from both sides of the aisle, though he’s been slower to re-open bars and restaurants.

As for calls to defund police departments, Wild says she believes rather that some duties – particularly those dealing with mental health issues – should be shifted away from law enforcement and directed toward other professionals. Her partner’s suicide in May 2019, she said, reframed how she sees criminal justice reform. 

"The loss of my partner was my impetus for going into this area," Wild said. "But I have to tell you, that as soon as I did I realized how neglected this field has been for so long. Every time I turn around something reminds us of that.” 

Scheller, too, says personal struggles shaped her political beliefs. After overcoming a heroin addiction nearly four decades ago, Scheller opened Hope & Coffee in 2018 as a meeting place to help others in recovery re-enter the job market. She supports policies that crack down on drug traffickers and strengthen national borders to limit the flow of illegal narcotics into the country. 

“What I discovered was that rock bottom is a solid foundation to build on,” she said. 

Staff Reporter

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania's General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.