Lloyd Smucker faces political newcomer Sarah Hammond in Pa.'s 11th Congressional District race
Charles Delauder had his Biden sign stolen from his York city property, and Chris Aldous had his Trump sign stolen from his York Township business property. York Daily Record
In the fight to represent Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, rated a "solid Republican" district in almost every national and local poll, the differences between the two candidates are vast. They are separated by age, gender, party and experience.
Incumbent Lloyd Smucker, the first Amish-born congressman, is vying for his third term in Washington. In previous elections, the Republican found support from the conservative population in the historically red district and is popular among Republicans who have supported President Trump throughout his first term in the White House.
He’s showing his opponent, Sarah Hammond, just how hard this seat will be to flip. Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District includes Lancaster County and southeastern York County, a swath of Trump country that the president won by 26 points in 2016.
Hammond, 28, is a fresh face on the political scene, running on a progressive platform in a district that is and has been strongly Republican.
She is a Hanover native and works as the field hockey coach at Hanover Senior High School. Following graduation from Slippery Rock University, Hammond worked at Crispus Attucks Community Center in York as a community development coordinator. She also previously held positions with the York County Young Democrats and volunteered for Jess King in her race against Smucker in 2018.
"I understand what it's like to have to figure out how to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, with little to spare," Hammond said. "I've had to make the decision to pay my monthly bills or struggle to pay for an emergency health expense my insurance did not cover. I understand what it is like to grow up in a small family who built a modest income through hard work, only for it to be completely wiped away due to economic collapse. ... That's why I'm fighting for our working class."
Smucker, of West Lampeter Township, has dominated in his previous races. He received 59 percent of the votes against King, winning by a nearly 50,000-vote margin.
King ran what is widely considered the most successful grassroots field campaign Democrats have ever seen in Lancaster County or southern York County. She garnered a $429,000 advantage over the GOP incumbent by the election.
"In Congress, I have worked to ensure that every individual and family has the opportunity to achieve their American Dream, regardless of their ZIP code, race, or upbringing," Smucker said. "When we empower individuals to make their own decisions and support their climb on the rungs of the ladder of success, we all benefit."
To help voters feel prepared heading to the polls or casting their mail-in ballot, the York Daily Record asked the candidates to answer questions for our Pennsylvania voter’s guide.
Here's a preview of some of what the candidates said.
Relating to COVID-19 relief
The pandemic has steered Pennsylvania’s economy into a recession. And although the rollout of programs such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Paycheck Protection Program has helped some, the virus continues to affect the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
Both candidates believe recovery from the pandemic needs to remain a top priority for Congress.
"We must continue to ensure that our economy is positioned to bounce back better than ever before, and that means supporting our small businesses," Smucker said. He condemns Gov. Tom Wolf’s "one-size-fits-all mandates" and "massive closures."
He also believes the U.S. must cut its reliance on foreign nations, such as China, to produce prescription drugs and PPE.
Hammond believes that in case of a second wave, a rapid response system needs to be in place moving forward.
"If that needs to happen through legislation and funding from Congress, in cooperation with the executive branch and the next administration, then I will support that," she said. "Congress generally needs to take control of industrial regulations that have lapsed during the current administration and to help set clear guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment, education, and virus-prevention."
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This century-old farmhouse is the rental property of a Republican mom of eight who wanted to help Donald Trump's campaign in 2016 and again this year. Beaver County Times
Where they stand on healthcare
Healthcare has long been a defining issue between Republicans and Democrats. But during a pandemic, the topic has been elevated further.
Smucker said that during his time in Congress, he has prioritized expanding access to affordable health care. He believes Obamacare should be repealed and replaced, but whatever the new system would be, he believes in protecting those with pre-existing conditions
"We need a system that encourages innovation, competitive pricing, and allows individuals to make decisions about their healthcare, unlike Medicare for all," he said.
Hammond supports uncoupling health insurance from employment and creating a universal health care system.
Black Lives Matter and police reforms
As the national movement for police reform and racial justice grows, state and local leaders have been tasked with spearheading these changes.
"I have and will continue to denounce racism and racial bias," Smucker said. "I have spoken with numerous law enforcement officers and chiefs throughout my time in Congress, and recent conversations have been focused on reform and improvements to prevent incidents."
Smucker does not support calls to defund the police, noting that such efforts only seek to divide and incite violence toward officers.
He believes in funding police departments to ensure officers have the resources and training necessary to effectively and safely police communities.
For Hammond, the solution is a bit different.
"To begin to fix the systematic oppression ingrained within our criminal justice system and end the school-to-prison pipeline, we must fund what works: investing in resources that our communities desperately need, and that are just," Hammond said.
For her, this means abolishing for-profit prisons, investing in mental health and crisis intervention resources, and creating independent review boards for yearly assessments of law officials, department overviews, and police-involved homicides.
"As we invest in more community-based resources, we must utilize our community policing budgets to provide the proper mental health support and resources for our officers to serve our communities while holding them to the highest standard," she said.