Challenge: Accepted. Army veteran announces run against Scott Perry

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

A new challenger has stepped up against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry after the two most likely candidates — Eugene DePasquale and George Scott — declined to run against the York County Republican again.

Rick Coplen, a retired U.S. Army officer, announced Tuesday that he'll run against Perry as a Democrat.

“The family meeting to discuss this decision was short and sweet,” Coplen said in his Facebook announcement. "Given our decades of service together in the U.S. Army and our perception of significant future national challenges and opportunities, my wife Lorelei and I quickly agreed: 'Duty calls!'"

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Rick Coplen, a former Army veteran and current Carlisle School Board member. Coplen announced his intentions to run against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry Tuesday.

DePasquale's sudden departure from the field Monday sent local Democrats scrambling for an alternate challenger. The deadline to gather signatures to appear on the May primary ballot is March 15.

The move is a change from Coplen's original plans to run for the new state Senate's 34th District seat. He ran in 2020 for the state 31st Senate District, where he lost to Democrat Shanna Danielson in the primary.

A retired Army officer, Coplen currently teaches at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle and at Elizabethtown College. He also serves on the Carlisle school board.

In his Facebook post, Coplen said he will be "unequivocal" in his support of veterans, farmers and a livable environment with clean air and water. He also attempted to draw a contrast with Perry on transparency, saying he will be open and honest with constituents, unli his opponent.

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At his first campaign event Wednesday night, Coplen will be joined by DePasquale as well as fellow school board member Linda Manning and Cumberland County Commissioner Jean Foschi. Initially intended for his campaign for the state Senate, the event has been repurposed for Coplen's new campaign against Perry.

According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, the newly drawn 10th District is slightly more GOP-leaning than the previous one. It has a partisan lean — a measure of how respective electorates have voted in recent contests — of R+9, a shift of one percentage point compared to the 2018 map.

FILE - Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., takes a question from a reporter at a news conference held by the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021. The committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection has requested an interview with Perry. The Republican lawmaker is the first sitting member of Congress the panel has requested to speak with.  (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)

Scott, a Lutheran minister, came within 3 percentage points of Perry in the 2018 election in the old district. DePasquale, a former state auditor general, lost in 2020 by 6.6 percentage points even though the race was expected by many to be one of the most competitive in the nation.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.