Montco congressional hopefuls square off

Left: Madeleine Dean is running for the new PA 4th Congressional district. (Emily Cohen for WHYY)
Right: Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 4th District Dan David. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Left: Madeleine Dean is running for the new PA 4th Congressional district. (Emily Cohen for WHYY) Right: Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 4th District Dan David. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

As the candidates for the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District in Montgomery County faced off in a debate Thursday night, they found plenty of ground to agree and disagree.

Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean said she wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, preserve abortion rights, strengthen gun laws, and work to bring “decency” back to American discourse.

GOP candidate Dan David is a businessman and the kind of Republican you’d expect to find in a district that leans Democratic.

He said he believes in fighting climate change, enacting some gun control laws, and supporting LGBTQ rights.

He described himself as pro-life, but he doesn’t favor a ban on abortion.

“I’m not looking to overturn Roe v. Wade,” David said.

Differences emerge

Both candidates said all people should be entitled to health care.

But Dean said she favors expansion of Medicaid, while David expressed concerns about the cost of improving access.

“Our economy and our country depend on being fiscally solvent,” he said. Once real cost savings in the health care system are achieved, he said, “then we can talk about what is universal, and what is not.”

Dean countered that expanding public options in health care and negotiating lower prices from pharmaceutical companies would save money.

Both candidates said they agreed with President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, though Dean said she wished it had been done with more diplomacy.

Personal stories

David runs a Skippack-based investment research firm that garnered national attention for exposing fraudulent claims by Chinese companies operating in American stock markets. He said he’ll be different from members of Congress he’s encountered.

“They know what happens where they live, possibly in their state, but they have no idea what’s going on in global affairs, global finance,” David said.

Dean said she’s proud of her six years in the legislature, where she said she managed to get things done in a Republican-controlled legislature by embracing bipartisanship.

“I would give up authorship of a bill I cared about,” Dean said. “If I could see that it would never see the light of day with my name on it as a Democrat, I’d partner with a Republican.”

There was no mention of the Brett Kavanaugh controversy and barely a reference to Trump, but many in the audience said their views of the president will have a lot to do with how they vote.

The debate was held at the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, and co-sponsored by Kehillah of Old York Road, Cheltenham Area Multifaith Council and The League of Women Voters.

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