When Greg Edwards, longtime Lehigh Valley resident and Pastor, looks at Pennsylvania’s 15th district, he sees opportunity. Even as the seat has been Republican since the Congressional district was drawn in 2000, Edwards is not interested in any sort of oscillating campaign. His website announces in bold letters, ‘this moment does not call for moderation’. Edwards is running on a platform of self-described revolutionary ideals, such as single-payer health care, debt-free college, and raising the minimum wage.
The history of the 15th district leaves more questions than assumptions about the upcoming race. Ultra-conservative Pat Toomey held the current intimation of the PA-15 for two terms until he raised his profile and started ignoring his Pennsylvanian constituents from the Senate chamber instead. Rep. Charlie Dent assumed the seat in 2005, but announced in September that he would not be seeking another term. Yet, even through all the years of Republican rule, the district voted for Barack Obama not once, but twice. A history such as this correct implies that the elections are usually close, and, especially without the incumbent advantage, it could be a competitive race.
Some might see the past election results and encourage Edwards to tone down his campaign. However, even without the proud proclamation of his distaste for dodging and dithering, his biography speaks volumes. As an African-American Pastor who has spent his career building progress and power through community engagement, the influence of Martin Luther King Jr. seems intuitive. However, the connection is more than implied as Edwards is a member of the 2016 inaugural class of the Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership at Morehouse College and a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers due to his continued work championing justice and nonviolent action.
Even with his illustrious history and progressive platform, I have to say that my favorite thing about Edwards’ website is his section for first-time voters (or voters who just need some more information). The past few years in Pennsylvania have seen attempts at diminishing voting access, attempts at Voter ID laws, and changes in polling places, all of which can cause confusion for voters. As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just issued a ruling on the redrawing of new Congressional lines before the end of February, the confusion is sure to continue. On Edwards’ website, he offers links to check your registration, register (if not already), check your polling place, and the dates of the upcoming elections. I have not seen any other candidate offer this information in such a clear and simple way, but I hope this will set an example for others. Information about a candidate is crucial, but if that informed citizen does not become an informed voter, then all is for naught.
The Pennsylvania midterm election is May 18th and Edwards is running in a packed Democratic primary, so be sure to keep an eye out.