Shamaine Daniels will challenge Scott Perry for U.S. House seat

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Shamaine Daniels, an immigration lawyer and Harrisburg City council member, will challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry in November's general election.

Daniels, who immigrated to the United States from Venezuela at age 13, announced her campaign shortly after former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale declined to challenge Perry.

"There was no way given the current environment that I was going to let Scott Perry run unchallenged," she said Wednesday, after it became clear Daniels won the Democratic primary.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Daniels had received 31,947 votes across the 10th District compared 28,988 for her opponent, U.S. Army veteran Rick Coplen.

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"Scott Perry needed to face someone this November," she said, "because he has a lot to answer for, and there's a lot of work he has neglected to do in his nine years of service as congressman in this particular district." 

Perry, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary, thanked his supporters and immediately criticized Daniels in a statement Wednesday, seeking to tie her to President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

His office did not respond to a request for comment on the race — nor has he addressed the subpoena he faces from the House Jan. 6 committee.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., appears before reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. The premier congressional races in Pennsylvania feature two Republican House members from opposite sides of the party's ideological spectrum trying to hang on for another term after recording narrow wins two years ago.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Perry's involvement behind the scenes, promoting the Big Lie that the 2020 election results were not legitimate, been a key issue in the race, at least on the Democratic side.

"When he supported the events of January 6, he undermined our credibility globally," Daniels said. "He's a danger domestically, and not only to our core values and institutions, but also internationally." 

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Daniels also criticized Perry for voting against the infrastructure bill.

"We live in a district that has tons of bridges that are in need of repair," Daniels said. "If he had been connected to his district, he would've realized investment in broadband is a big deal for our district." 

On immigration, Daniels said if elected she would work to fully staff the country's immigration agencies.

"Right now," she said, "if you send in an asylum application, you have no idea how many years that would sit, and that's not good for you as the immigrant waiting for the decision, and that's not good for the country, which has a bunch of people waiting in limbo."

Coplen, a Carlisle Area School District board member and teacher, immediately endorsed Daniels for the general election.

"This morning I called Shamaine to congratulate her and offer my assistance for her winning General Election campaign, including a financial donation to her campaign and other assistance," Coplen said in a written statement statement. 

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.

Ousting Perry will be an uphill battle, said political analyst G. Terry Madonna, a senior fellow at Millersville University.

"It's a pretty strongly Republican district," Madonna said. "It's just a very, very tough district for Democrats."

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.

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Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, said Perry's still the prohibitive favorite.

"In a good cycle for Democrats, I think this would be in play," he said. "In this cycle right now, it's I think a bigger lift for the Democratic nominee in this race."

Daniels acknowledged she has a lot of work to do but is committed to getting voters out.

"I think the people who are for Scott Perry are not going to be persuaded," she said. "That's a number in this district, I don't think that's the majority of this district. I think the majority will want solutions to the problems that they're dealing with.

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

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