Freshman congresswoman in Pa.’s 6th district faces challenge from fellow engineer

Houlahan for Congress, and Emmons for Congress (Facebook)

Houlahan for Congress, and Emmons for Congress (Facebook)

Businessman and engineer John Emmons is working to unseat freshman Democratic Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan.

Houlahan, the former COO of the nonprofit Springboard Collaborative, won the seat that includes Berks and Chester counties in 2018 by nearly 18 points.

She is the first woman be elected to Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which includes over 700,000 people, and the first Democrat in 160 years.

Before the commonwealth’s congressional districts were redrawn in 2018, the seat was held by Ryan Costello, a Republican.

Houlahan, a graduate of MIT and Stanford, worked on air and space defense technologies while in the Air Force.

A third-generation military veteran, Houlahan describes her service as part of a family tradition.

“My father put in me this really important essence of giving back to the country that gave him and my mom and my extended family so much,” she said.

Houlahan says among her priorities are expanding access to health care, implementing campaign finance reform, and combating climate change.

Since arriving in Congress, Houlahan has served on the House Committees on Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Small Business.

She says she never anticipated her freshman term would include an impeachment, a pandemic, and a national reckoning with racism.

“Those are reasons why I wanted to be here. I want to be a healer, I want to be someone who brings us together,” she said.

Her opponent, Republican John Emmons, is the director of operations for a sealing and insulating plant in Lancaster and a deacon at his Presbyterian Church. He is billing himself as “Reagan Republican.”

He is running on a anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment platform.

He says growing up on a small family-run farm gave him a strong work ethic.

“The fact that I enjoy working and contributing I think has helped me throughout the rest of my life,” Emmons said of his 40-year career in business.

While he supports President Donald Trump for a second term, he says he disagrees with the president on style.

“The key thing is results, and when you look at the results of that administration’s policies, I think they have been very, very positive, and I think if allowed to grow, they would be even more positive,” he said.

Over the summer, Emmons opposed COVID-19 mitigation lockdowns.

He has called for more competition among health care providers and for the government to secure the southern border.

According to the watchdog group, Open Secrets, Houlahan has raised significantly more money than Emmons, reporting over $3 million dollars as of the end of September. She has received about half her donations from large individual contributors.

Emmons has raised some $500,000, with $100,000 left on hand. At least $200,000 thousand came from his own bank account.

Which way will Pa. vote?

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