Voters in Chester County might be excused if they see Gregory Michael McCauley as the unexpected candidate for the county’s newly created 6th Congressional District.
In January, when he started a long-shot campaign to get his name listed on the ballot, he was running mostly as a protest candidate against the Republican incumbent that he saw as too moderate for his views on fiscal and domestic policy, Patrick Meehan.
But then Meehan became embroiled in a sex scandal that led first to his announcement that he would not seek re-election and eventually to his resignation from his 7th Congressional District seat. Then, the state Supreme Court upended Pennsylvania politics by redrawing the congressional map to end what it saw as gerrymanderism, and placed all of Chester County, including McCauley’s home in Kennett, in the 6th District.
On Tuesday, McCauley, a tax attorney and small business owner who had never sought elective office prior to 2018, was nominated to represent the Republican Party in November’s General Election. He will face a well-known, well-funded Democratic opponent, businesswoman Chrissy Houlahan, who had been preparing a run against Costello for more than a year.
“I think everything went well, considering I’ve only been in the race for six weeks,” the genial McCauley said last week. “I think it went great. I know I have a lo of work to do but I am going to continue to do what I have been doing. I’ve knocked on over 7,000 doors (to get his name on the primary ballot), and I am not afraid of hard work.
“I don’t think the election results were bad for me at all. I am way behind, but I fully anticipated that,” he declared. “I am very realistic. I’m not a professional candidate, and I don’t have a professional team behind me. I am doing to best I can, and learning what the expectations are for a successful candidate.”
But if he thought he would have a chance to catch his breath after the whirlwind that brought him to where he is today, McCauley would be mistaken. On Tuesday, less than two hours after polls in the state closed, the first attack was leveled at McCauley by the national Democratic Party.
“The Case Against Greg McCauley,” read the subject line of the email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee then landed in reporters’ inboxes at 9:30 p.m. The email included a ringing endorsement of Houlahan by DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján, and a full-throated broadside on McCauley’s candidacy as out of touch with the majority of voters in the wealthy, educated, suburban district.
“A virtual unknown, McCauley has raised very little money and does not have a professional campaign operation,” the email read. “His candidacy so concerned local Republicans that they considered running a write-in candidate to defeat him. Even worse for Republicans, the far-right McCauley only entered the race because Costello was too moderate, saying he was motivated to challenge Costello because of his vote against the Republican health care repeal bill.”
The Democrats attacked McCauley as being anti-women, anti-health care, and pro-tax cut for the rich.
“McCauley will have to explain to voters why 83 percent of the tax cuts go to the wealthiest one percent, why big corporations deserve larger tax cuts than middle-class families, why companies that have announced nearly $400 billion in stock buybacks are simultaneously laying off workers, and why (Republicans) voted to blow a $1.9 trillion hole in the deficit,” the DCCC stated. “Speaker Ryan may be retiring, but not before making a clear, problematic declaration that Republicans like McCauley will have to address: the Republicans intend to use the deficit hole to slash Medicare and Social Security.”
McCauley, told of the attacks, said he would not back down for his insistence on conservative fiscal policies and the need for the country to tighten its belt economically.
“I think the tax bill was a great start, but there is a lot more work to be done. (America) needs to cinch its belt, and do more with less,” he said, referring to the tax reform bill championed by President Trump and the GOP leadership that Democrats see as a giveaway to the rich and powerful.
“There are lots of ways to do that, and every voter I have spoken with, small business owners especially, say that is what they do every day,” he continued, speaking of an austerity plan. “There are going to be tough decisions but this is about time someone starts to address the deficit, immigration, and debt. If we do I think we can bring back the American dream.”
Of the budget that was eventually passed by the GOP leadership following the tax reform bill that reportedly adds trillions to the national debt, McCauley was less than enthusiastic. “I don’t think I would have been a part of it. I don’t think we should be running up trillions of dollars in debt that our grandchildren will not be able to pay. No one should want to kick the can down the road anymore.”
McCauley was nominated to represent the GOP in the General Election this November, as he won the Republican Primary with 26,416 votes in Chester County, 98 percent of the total of ballots cast by registered Republicans. There were 316 write-in votes, and 2,331 GOP voters did not bother to cast a ballot in the 6th District election. By contrast, Houlahan was nominated with 99 percent of the vote by Democrats, with 29,344 votes. Only 143 write-in votes were recorded, and only 1,312 party voters ignored the seat.
Overall, Democratic voters outpaced their GOP counterparts at the polls, turning out with 22 percent of registered voters as compared with 19 percent of Republicans.
In Berks County, a portion of which is in the 6th District, McCauley garnered 5,799 votes to Houlahan’s 6,026.
On Thursday, his name was added to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “On the Radar” list for its “Young Guns” program. The committee said he had “met specific goals that ensure his campaign will be able to operate effectively leading up to the General Election in November.”
“I am honored and excited to be inducted into the program,” he said of the announcement. “We have worked hard to make it to this point but we are far from done. I am the best candidate to represent Pennsylvania’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives because I understand local priorities which include supporting an environment in Washington that incubates thriving local economies in areas like Chester and Berks counties.” Source