Another Democrat has announced plans to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker in 2018.
John George, 56, a former Warwick superintendent and career educator, said he decided to run for political office for the first time because of what he sees as an “attack on public education,” health care and the working class by President Donald Trump and members of the Republican-controlled Congress.
“Watching what's been playing out in Washington, D.C., has made me more angry and more frustrated each day,” said George, who served as superintendent of Warwick School District from July 2006 to August 2008.
He joins Manheim Township pharmacist Charlie Klein in what could become a crowded Democratic primary motivated by frustrations with the Trump administration.
Smucker, a West Lampeter Republican, served two terms in the state Senate before defeating Democrat Christina Hartman in the 2016 race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Joe Pitts.
Smucker beat Hartman in November with 54 percent of the vote. She said Tuesday she is considering another run for the seat next year.
Smucker has not officially said whether he will run for re-election, though he has continued fundraising and a recent fundraising email asks for support for his “re-election campaign.”
George, in his time at the school district, was praised for implementing changes after racially charged incidents at its schools. He also dealt with the arrest of a former high school teacher who was charged with a two-year sexual relationship with a student.
George left Warwick to become executive director of the Berks County Intermediate Unit. He also had a stint as acting superintendent of the Reading School District before becoming executive director of the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, where he now manages a roughly $150 million budget and about 500 employees.
George said the Trump administration’s emphasis on school vouchers will hurt public education. He is against rolling back any funding for programs that provide temporary assistance, job training or child care. He also said he supports raising the minimum wage and is opposed to policies that “limit or reduce the rights of unions.”
Ultimately, he decided he wanted to run after seeing an LNP interview with Smucker in which the freshman congressman said he liked the direction the country was headed.
“I read the paper that morning and thought, ‘We live in different worlds,’” George said.
The 16th district covers most of Lancaster County as well as parts of Berks and Chester counties. Its voter registration makeup last November was 45 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic and 16 percent independent or third party.