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Perry works to link DePasquale to Wolf's shutdown in final debate

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa. 10) speaks to reporters after participating in a Rotary Club of York candidate forum at the Country Club of York Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. He is seeking reelection for the 10th Congressional seat. His opponent, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will be featured at a similar Oct. 7 event. Bill Kalina photo

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry likened Gov. Tom Wolf's COVID-19 shutdown orders to eminent domain in the second debate in the race for Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District, while accusing his opponent of going soft on the governor.

In the final debate with state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale prior to the Nov. 3 election, Perry repeatedly hammered on Wolf's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Perry especially focused on Wolf's decision earlier this year to shutter nonessential businesses.

"Folks like us, who have actually run a business, we understood what was happening, that the government was taking away people’s livelihoods. And when the government does that, it’s no different than eminent domain,” Perry, R-Carroll Township, said.

More:DePasquale outpaced Perry in 3rd quarter fundraising

More:Perry, DePasquale spar over Social Security at first debate

Perry spent much of the debate, hosted by WGAL-TV, attacking DePasquale for what he characterized as a failure to hold the governor accountable for his handling of the pandemic.

DePasquale responded that he had a record of independence during both Republican and Democratic administrations. 

A recent audit of Wolf's business waiver program, authored by DePasquale's office and accusing the Wolf administration of inconsistencies for its handling of granting exemptions to the shutdown, was evidence that he did not grant partisan favors to Wolf, DePasquale said. 

"Obviously, I just completed a very tough audit of Gov. Wolf’s waiver program," DePasquale argued. "And I think that is something that was mishandled from the beginning.”

When speaking of the audit earlier this month, DePasquale said the governor's handling of the program was "simply unacceptable."

Perry, however, said that the audit didn't unveil anything new and he accused the auditor general of dragging out the process.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale speaks with Rotary Club of York past-president Mike Summers and club members, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, during the club's program featuring the candidates for the 10th Congressional District at the Country Club of York. Congressman Scott Perry, DePasquale's opponent, appeared in the program last month. Bill Kalina photo

"He sat on it for six months. Then when he came out with this scathing report, a scathing report that said that he was puzzled and (the program) was inconsistent... We all knew that," Perry said. "He told us what we already knew. We should've hired Captain Obvious to do this audit."

The four-term Republican incumbent also criticized DePasquale for receiving campaign donations from Wolf. 

Monday's debate proved to be similar to the candidates' first face-off on Oct. 8, with DePasquale again hitting Perry over his voting record on Social Security and Medicare.

DePasquale has repeatedly cited Perry's votes in 2014 and 2017 to privatize Medicare and turn it into a voucher-style program.

In 2015 and 2017, Perry also voted to raise the retirement age, which DePasquale said would hurt the livelihood of seniors.

When asked again about his voting record Tuesday, however, Perry said "It's all made up stuff, and I have no idea what he's talking about." 

DePasquale also went on the offensive about Perry's denial of systemic racism.

This past month, while appearing at a Rotary Club of York forum, Perry claimed that systemic racism doesn't exist. He also said Black individuals dying at the hands of police has been sensationalized.

Perry then pivoted to accusing DePasquale of wanting to defund the police, something that has become a rallying cry among some demonstrators following Floyd's death.

DePasquale on multiple occasions has explicitly stated he does not support defunding police departments.

Monday's debate came on the heels of the release of the race's third quarter funding results, where the Democrat outraised Perry by about $300,000.

The third quarter reports, which covered the period from July 1 to Sept. 30, show DePasquale raised nearly 1.7 million compared with the Carroll Township Republican's roughly $1.3 million.

Perry's campaign, on the other hand, highlighted that they have significantly more cash on hand.

Perry had more than $1 million cash on hand at the close of the reporting period, a significantly higher amount than DePasquale, who closed the period with $569,676.

The 10th Congressional District race has been rated a toss-up by independent political analysts including The Cook Political Report, Politico and Sabato's Crystal Ball. 

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.