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Biden backs DePasquale as PA-10 becomes one of the nation's tightest races
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Biden backs DePasquale as PA-10 becomes one of the nation's tightest races

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Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden endorsed the Congressional bid of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Sunday afternoon, further raising the profile of the race between DePasquale and incumbent Congressman Scott Perry.

In remarks provided by DePasquale’s campaign, Biden lauded DePasquale as an “independent leader who will put the needs of his district first,” praising his issue-focused performance as the state’s auditor general.

Polling shows the contest for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District in dead heat, both in the race between Perry and DePasquale, and in the race between Biden and President Donald Trump.

The latter endorsed Perry, a fellow Republican and frequent defender of the president, in a May Twitter post in which Trump called Perry “an incredible fighter for Pennsylvania” and praised his military background.

The parallel presidential and Congressional races point to PA-10 as a microcosm of the nation’s political struggle writ large. The district encompasses all of Dauphin County, as well as northern York County and York City, and eastern Cumberland County, including Carlisle.

The district’s urban areas have become even more Democratic since 2016, and its rural areas more staunchly Republican.

But the suburbs of the West Shore area in eastern Cumberland County present an opening for Democrats. Although Perry defeated Democratic challenger George Scott by 2.5 points in 2018, he lost significant ground in areas such as New Cumberland, Lemoyne and Camp Hill, with the last favoring Scott by over 11 points despite having favored Perry by 16 points just two years earlier.

DePasquale has also out-fundraised Perry recently, with his campaign committee posting $482,000 in contributions in its July report versus $355,000 for Perry’s committee.

The Democrat has used the funds to blanket the area with advertising, most of which highlights DePasquale’s personal background.

Perry has run advertising that has sought to associate DePasquale with the far left of the Democratic Party, running images of DePasquale next to Congresswoman Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez, a frequent foil of conservatives.

That effort has been buoyed by considerable outside spending, including a six-figure effort from House Freedom Action, a conservative political action committee whose ads also attempt to cast DePasquale as a radical leftist.

On the ground, however, DePasquale has voiced criticisms of his party’s more radical proposals, such as the Green New Deal resolution and universal Medicare legislation. During his primary campaign, he largely emphasized bipartisanship, but also endorsed some progressive policies such as a $15 per hour minimum wage and free in-state college tuition for publicly-financed schools.

In his endorsement message, Biden also praised DePasquale’s “audit of Pharmacy Benefit Managers that spurred legislation that will lower the cost of prescriptions drugs for seniors across the state,” indicating both Democratic campaigns are likely to continue pushing on health care.

DePasquale has taken the offensive on the topic, attacking Perry over his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his no-votes on legislation that would tie prescription drug price increases to inflation, a move which Perry and other Republicans said would stifle innovation.

Nearly all national political rating outfits, including the Cook Political Report, have PA-10 as one of the tightest races in the nation. The most recent poll, commissioned by the York Dispatch, showed Perry leading by six points among already-decided voters, but with the vast majority of undecideds saying they were leaning toward DePasquale.

Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.

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