Fangs bared in debate among Pa. 13th District candidates

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    Former U.S. Rep. and congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies used her opening statement in a Northeast Philadelphia debate last night to whack each of her three opponents by name, finishing by declaring that state Sen. Daylin Leach can’t even vote in the election because he doesn’t live in the district they’re running in.

    “Well, first let me respond to Marjorie’s uplifting opening statement,” Leach deadpanned when asked the first question. And so it went.

    All four Democrats in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District have a real shot at winning the nomination, so they’re playing for keeps. You can hear some sound from last night’s debate by pressing the audio tab above.

    The debate was sponsored by John Sabatina, Democratic leader of Philadelphia’s 56th Ward and a supporter of Margolies, which is why one candidate, state Rep. Brendan Boyle, declined to participate.

    Some highlights:

    • Leach answered the criticism about living outside the district by saying he’s 200 yards from the district, whose boundaries were gerrymandered by Republican legislators. He said he wasn’t going to move his family to chase those borders and that he’s a part of the community. “If that’s a deal breaker, don’t vote for me.”

    • Margolies called accusations that she wants to cut Social Security benefits “intellectually dishonest,” noting that the evidence presented in mailers by physician Valerie Arkoosh is from the early ’90s. Margolies said she now opposes such cuts. Leach again had a rejoinder. “People can change their minds,” he said. “But do you want someone with that history if these are important issues to you?”

    • Leach hit Margolies hard on his Federal Election Commission complaint that her campaign violated federal law by spending funds in the primary election campaign that were limited to general election costs. “She broke the law, not once, not an accidental bookkeeping thing where she went 50 bucks under, but she woke up every day and made a conscious decision: `I’m going to break the law today, over and over and over again,'” Leach said. Margolies said only that her campaign would answer the FEC complaint and “we will see what the FEC does.”

    •  Arkoosh, Leach and Margolies all attacked Boyle for his mixed record on abortion rights. He wasn’t there, but he’s said he supports Roe v. Wade, and that his thinking has changed on the issue over the years. Reproductive rights groups have condemned Boyle’s 2011 vote for a bill imposing new restrictions on Pennsylvania abortion providers.

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