Philadelphia Dems line up to challenge Meehan in 2018

     Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District Molly Sheehan (left) and Dan Muroff say they're ready to take on GOP U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan. ( and Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District Molly Sheehan (left) and Dan Muroff say they're ready to take on GOP U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan. ( and Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Two Democratic candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to try to unseat the Republican U.S. Rep.  Pat Meehan in Pennsylvania’s 7th District.

    One of their first moves is to, well, move.

    Candidates Dan Muroff and Molly Sheehan both live in Philadelphia, but have roots in the 7th District. Muroff grew up in Havertown, while Sheehan attended Perkiomen Valley School District in Collegeville and Haverford College. Both said they are planning to move back permanently in the coming weeks.

    In a solidly Republican district, the Democrats hope to ride a wave of discontent over Meehan’s voting record under President Donald Trump, including votes on the GOP’s failed Obamacare replacement.

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    “I’ve been disappointed that Pat Meehan has been supporting the Trump agenda 92 percent of the time,” said Muroff, who is a Philadelphia ward leader residing in Mt. Airy. Meehan “supported the American Healthcare Act in committee, before he said he’d vote against it” in a general session. Muroff, who previously worked for congressional offices in Illinois and Massachusetts, also headed CeaseFirePA, a group promoting stricter gun laws.

    Pennsylvania’s 7th District is often held up as an example of extreme gerrymandering — shards of what was once a contiguous district are scattered across Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Lancaster and Berks counties. It also has 63,999 more registered Republicans than Democrats, according to April numbers from Pennsylvania’s Department of State.

    As Philadelphia’s suburbs trend more Democratic, challengers hope to unseat incumbents in “safe seats” next year.

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by more than 2 percentage points in the 7th, while Meehan won his fourth term by nearly 20.

    “The science agenda and health care are on the chopping block,” said Sheehan, who is a biophysics and cancer researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. She said Trump’s proposed $1.2 billion in budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health, which would greatly reduce federal grants for biomedical research, will slow down innovation and cost lives.

    Republicans are “not using evidence to create policy, instead using ideology,” she said. Sheehan has so far garnered support from 314 PAC, which aims to bring professionals from STEM fields into politics.

    Meehan’s office declined to comment for this article, but a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Chris Pack, had these words for the Democratic candidates:

    “The people of Pennsylvania’s 7th District deserve better than two carpetbaggers who are products of the corrupt Philadelphia Democratic machine. Luckily for voters, they have a trusted choice in Pat Meehan, who is leading the bipartisan fight to battle global warming and reforming the death-spiraling Obamacare law.”

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