GOP challenger says Perry isn't pro-Trump enough
Republican Bobby Jeffries, of Hershey, talks about his candidacy for U.S. Congress in York City, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. Jeffries would run against current U.S. Rep. Scott Perry in the 2020 primary election. York Dispatch
The first Republican to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Perry in a primary since 2012 says one of the biggest issues with the incumbent is that he’s not as supportive of President Donald Trump as he should be.
Bobby Jeffries, a 28-year-old Hershey native, says he is running against the four-term Republican incumbent from Carroll Township to bring a younger face to the Republican Party — one that would support the president at every turn.
“I was a fan of (President Donald Trump) from the moment he walked down the escalators of Trump Tower with his beautiful wife," Jeffries said of Trump's campaign announcement in 2015. "What he represented was something different than the status quo. Like Trump's rhetoric or hate it, the policies speak for themselves."
Jeffries, who majored in political science at Millersville University in Lancaster and now works as the director of warehousing and logistics for his family's wellness business, Jackson GI Medical, made it clear he'd work to make sure Trump's agenda comes to fruition in his last second as president if reelected.
Although Perry is a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus — which is raising money to ensure he wins a fifth term in 2020 — and votes in Trump's interests more than 88% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, that just isn't enough, Jeffries said.
"He's a nice guy and a great man," Jeffries said. "I just think his time in the U.S. Congress hasn't produced the kind of results we deserve. There were many Republicans who were very late to get on with the president. Scott Perry, if I'm not mistaken, didn't get on until Trump won the nomination."
Perry has failed to honor a pledge to serve no more than three terms in the U.S. House, engage voters in town halls and wouldn't have even won reelection last year without Trump, Jeffries argued.
Perry's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jeffries brands himself as a new-generation conservative intent on replacing what he considers out-of-touch Republicans who have remained in office for multiple terms while failing to represent the youth.
“The thing about Trump is that he’s been consistent since 1977," Jeffries said of Trump. "Whether you like him or you hate him, he has stood firm on what he believes. He has been the same on everything.”
Yet Trump's inconsistencies are well documented. For example, in 2016, he claimed Mexico would pay for a wall on the southern border, but has since sought federal funding for it. Throughout his life, Trump has claimed to be both "pro-life" and "pro-choice." Since taking office, he's waffled on whether he supports post-9/11 surveillance programs, at one point throwing legislation to renew the program into chaos. And he's repeatedly announced tariffs only to delay them later.
Trump has kept two campaign promises, though. He's appointed two conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and signed a significant tax cut into law.
Jeffries is the second millennial to enter the 10th District race after Democrat Tom Brier, a former classmate at Hershey High School.
Since college, Jeffries said, he's noticed the mainstream media and universities target Republicans.
Another part of the problem is that the youth feel like there are no alternatives in a political realm full of radicalism, most of which he detailed as within the Democratic Party despite saying it's present on both sides.
"The Democratic Party is no longer the party of John F. Kennedy, FDR or Thomas Jefferson," Jeffries said. "In a lot of ways, it has become the party of Stalin, Lenin and Karl Marx. I think it's doing a tremendous disservice to the party that has produced so many great leaders."
Jeffries continuously praised Trump during an hourlong interview, claiming the president is "the first president to do anything for the LGBT all over the world" and has helped Republicans become the true party of blue-collar workers.
The claim that Trump is the only president to help the LGBTQ community is false. For example, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed under President Barack Obama in 2009 to extend the definition of hate crimes to those who are targeted because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
On immigration, Jeffries said the country needs to invest in both a border wall and resources at ports of entry to more quickly process the "good" migrants.
"This is a nation of immigrants, and we want as many good and amazing people coming here and wanting to assimilate with our culture and live out their own American dream," Jeffries said.
Trump's rhetoric surrounding immigration has led to many accusations by Democrats that he is racist, including from Brier and state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who is also running for the 10th District seat.
The president recently came under fire for telling four members of Congress and women of color to "go back to where they came from," which Jeffries said wasn't racist partly because "there's one race, and that's the human race."
Jeffries also echoed Trump's claims about health care and tariffs, calling the Affordable Care Act a "complete mess" and tariffs an unwanted, but at times useful, tool to create a level playing field with China.
He went on to praise Trump's demands for more meticulous background checks following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where 31 were killed. Most recently, six police officers in Philadelphia were shot while serving a warrant.
On Tuesday, Trump walked back earlier support for enhanced background checks for gun purchases.
Jeffries repeated talking points from other Republicans that universal background checks, such as those proposed by House Democrats, would cause law-abiding citizens to lose their ability to purchase firearms, whereas he supports expanding background checks, but not to the point they would interfere with private sales or lending.
The only time Jeffries broke from Trump's rhetoric was when he asserted that blaming violent video games for shootings is a "ridiculous boomer talking point."
The 10th District, which includes northern York County, part of Cumberland County and all of Dauphin County, has taken a purplish hue since the state Supreme Court implemented new congressional lines last year after finding unconstitutional levels of gerrymandering.
Jeffries acknowledged the shift, but he said his willingness to take on establishment candidates, such as Perry and DePasquale, while being the voice of a new generation of Republicans will allow him to serve in Congress and bolster Trump's efforts.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.