A sixth potential challenger to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker in next year’s election has begun actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination.
Gary Wegman, a Reading dentist who ran a short-lived campaign for the same 16th Congressional District seat in 2016, is courting Democrats at their local committee meetings, according to Wegman’s campaign Facebook page.
He also participated in a recent congressional candidate forum held by the grassroots group Lancaster Stands Up and attended the Lancaster County Democratic Committee’s banquet last week. He did not respond to multiple calls from LNP to discuss the campaign.
Wegman joins four other Democrats and one independent who have said they will run for the seat held by Smucker, a freshman Republican who replaced 10-term GOP U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts earlier this year.
The Democratic challengers include nonprofits consultant Christina Hartman, nonprofit agency director Jessica King, former Warwick school superintendent John George and Lancaster city resident Richard Griffiths Smith Jr.
Manheim Township pharmacist Charlie Klein, a former Democratic state House candidate, is planning to run as an independent.
Smucker defeated Hartman, 54 percent to 43 percent, in the general election last year.
Joining the crowded 2018 field, Wegman is a practicing dentist of more than three decades and a fifth-generation farmer from Exeter Township, Berks County.
He described himself as a moderate Democrat during his first campaign two years ago when Pitts announced his retirement.
But five weeks before the spring 2016 primary between him and Hartman, he dropped out when some of the roughly 1,030 signatures he gathered to get on the ballot were invalidated.
“We’ll be back in 2018,” he told LNP at the time.
The 16th District covers almost all of Lancaster County as well as Reading in Berks County and part of Chester County.
Candidates looking to get on the primary ballot will seek party endorsements in early 2018 and then collect 1,000 signatures from district residents.