Democrats in PA 6th district vie to take on Gerlach

    Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike agree on most issues

    Pennsylvania’s sixth congressional district has been called the most gerrymandered in the nation. After being redrawn by Republicans in 2001, it sprawls over Montgomery, Chester, Berks, and Lehigh. But two Democrats feel they’ve got a shot. One will face incumbent Jim Gerlach.

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    Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike agree on most issues. But their backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

    Manan Trivedi
    Manan Trivedi

    Trivedi is the son of Indian immigrants to Berks County who spent years working at the Red Cheek apple juice factory. The 35 year old Reading area native is a physician with a masters in health policy. He’s also a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve, and was deployed to Iraq as the battalion doctor for one of the first Marine units sent to Iraq.

    “On both sides of the aisle, I think it’s evident we need people with different backgrounds, different perspectives, and I think people are looking for a new breed of civil servant, and that’s what I think I can provide and that’s what I think we need.”

    The mild mannered physician sees himself as a political outsider uniquely qualified to weigh in on the issues of the day, including health care reform and foreign policy.

    “It was evident to me that people who were making these decisions didn’t have those experiences, didn’t have that perspective, whether it was serving with the Marines or fighting on the front lines of the health care crisis, to make those decisions, I think you need to have been there. And that’s what I can provide, and that’s what sort of drove me to this decision.”

    Opposite Trivedi sits Pike, the former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer and son of a nine term Congressman from New York state. Pike also spent ten years running a psychiatric hospital in New York.

    Doug Pike
    Doug Pike

    “I decided I could do more good down in Washington with a vote at this time when we’re really struggling, and the economy is very very weak, and we’ve inherited these problems from George W. Bush and Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach helped a lot. He was an enabler. And I want to get down to Washington to fight for the people in this district.”

    Pike says his journalism background makes him the ideal government critic, able to reform from within.

    “When I was a journalist for many many years, I was a pretty darn good journalist. I worked very hard at it. I love helping people. I just love it. What could be more satisfying than that?”

    Trivedi and Pike differ little on policy, although Trivedi opposed a troop surge in Afghanistan while Pike supported it. They don’t seem equally prepared to mount a campaign against Gerlach. Pike, who has listed his personal assets at between 2.1 and 4.7 million dollars, pumped more than a million of it into his own campaign. And while Trivedi out fund-raised Pike for the first quarter of this year his war chest still pales in comparison to Pike’s.

    Franklin and Marshall Pollster Terry Madonna says individual fundraising might not matter so much. Since Republicans are expected to dominate the November elections, Madonna says Democrats are likely to put a lot of resources toward the eventual winner.

    “I don’t think that campaign resources will be an issue in the sixth congressional race because Democrats are looking for a Republican seats that they have a chance to pick up, and I think clearly this is one.”

    The district is diverse, encompassing wealthy suburbs like Lower Merion, and poorer ones like Norristown and Coatesville. A bastion of Republicans when it was drawn in 2001, the District has shifted Democratic in recent years. Party officials believe this may make the November election competitive.

    “It leans Republican, make no mistake about that, but I think the Democrats look at this with a big maybe, and they don’t have a lot of places where they can pick up seats held by Republicans, and they will want to put the Republicans on the defensive, and I think this will be one of those seats.”

    Madonna hasn’t done polling in this race, but he says there is no clear favorite.

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