A colorful new campaign commercial from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker is calling his opponent Jess King a “radical” who would “rule us like a king” as the rhetoric escalates in the 11th Congressional District race.
But don’t call it a negative ad, Smucker said in an interview.
And fresh off the pair’s first major debate this week, the first-term incumbent also got a fundraising boost from one of the top Republicans in Congress.
Meanwhile in Harrisburg, state lawmakers will return for the final days of the 2017-18 session next week, and quite a few bills are still left on the negotiating table.
Here are those updates and more from the political scene in Lancaster County and beyond.
King and kings
“Jess King would rule us like a king,” a voiceover states as a colorfully altered photo of King with a golden crown and wings appears on the screen. The ad refers to her support for Medicare-for-all, which the ad calls a “radical” plan to allow government bureaucrats to spend trillions and control the national health care system.
King and other Democrats argue — as she did in the candidates’ debate on Monday — that the plan would be a shift in how health care costs are paid and actually produce overall savings in the long run.
Toward the end of the new 30-second spot, before Smucker appears to say he approves the message, the voiceover calls King “radical” and “royally out of touch” — the same phrasing that also appears on a new mailer from the state Republican Party.
King sarcastically called it a “nice ad” in the debate. She explained that she’s never called for doubling federal taxes — as the ad states — and that her view is that Medicare-for-all would represent a shift and eventual savings in healthcare costs.
Smucker said in an interview he doesn’t consider the ad negative.
“All we’re doing there is talking about the impacts of her Medicare-for-all plan. There’s nothing negative about her whatsoever,” he said. “It’s talking about that, really the fallacies of that idea and how that would impact us.”
A costly country club lunch
Smucker also spent this week getting some fundraising help from U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who serves in congressional leadership as House majority whip.
Scalise was the main attraction at a Thursday luncheon at Bent Creek Country Club in Lititz that cost $750 to attend — or $2,700 for four guests and $4,000 for eight guests, according to an invitation for the event.
Not all the money will necessarily go to Smucker’s re-election bid. The lunch was hosted by a joint-fundraising committee that collects campaign cash for multiple political action committees, including the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and the National Republican Campaign Committee.
The status of Smucker’s and King’s campaign piggy banks will become more clear next week when new fundraising reports are scheduled for public release.
At the last update in mid-July, the Democratic challenger had more cash on hand than the incumbent — $355,583 to $301,370. But, Smucker had both raised and spent more in the previous months as he faced an expensive Republican primary contest.
Smucker’s campaign manager, Zach Peirson, said Scalise was only scheduled for the one event in the area and had to fly back to his home state of Louisiana right after the fundraiser.
Final days in Harrisburg
If lawmakers in Harrisburg stick to their calendar, the first three days of next week will be the final ones of the current two-year session, marking the end for thousands of pieces of legislation that will have to start the legislative process again in 2019.
Many of the major bills noted in On Politics three weeks ago are still unlikely to get final votes — from reducing the size of the 203-member state House to establishing an independent commission for redrawing district boundaries.
And advocates are still pushing for a final agreement on a bill to expand the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases.
Another bill, which would increase the penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania, passed out of a House committee this week and could receive a final vote. The legislative goal is a Lancaster County-centered effort, with local advocates and lawmakers pushing for the final passage of a bill — Senate Bill 961 — years in the making.