George Scott follows DePasquale in declining run against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

George Scott joined former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale in choosing not to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry for the newly drawn 10th Congressional District.

Scott, a pastor from Dauphin County, said his decision has nothing to do with the new congressional lines drawn — unlike DePasquale, a fellow Democrat, who cited that as his main reason.

"I'm back in ministry, and I'm happy to be back serving in that capacity," Scott told The York Dispatch on Tuesday. "I hope we get a strong candidate — it's important that we give voters a choice."

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Scott came within 3 percentage points of Perry in the 2018 election. Scott did not run again in 2020.

In the 2020 election, DePasquale lost by 6.6 percentage points even though the race was expected by many to be one of the most competitive in the nation.

U.S. congressional candidate George Scott poses with campaign lawn signs at his headquarters in Harrisburg on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. He is attempting to oust incumbent Rep. Scott Perry in the 10th District. Bill Kalina photo

Although DePasquale has been raising funds and said last year he was “strongly considering running,” the recent redistricting left Pennsylvania’s 10th “a district that, in my opinion, will continue to reward candidates who peddle in extremism and division."

“That is not who I am, and therefore, I do not see a path forward,” he wrote in a message posted on his campaign website and sent via email Monday. (See his full statement at the bottom of this report.)

The departure of both recent Democratic challengers from the race comes at an inopportune time for the party. Anyone opposing Perry in the race would have until March 15 to collect the necessary 1,000 signatures. Democratic Party officials have been scrambling to recruit a big-name candidate. 

In the meantime, activist Gene Stilp publicly offered to serve as a "placeholder" on the ballot.

“The Democratic county parties in York, Dauphin and Cumberland counties have to make sure that the ballot position is preserved," Stilp said Tuesday. "A placeholder candidate is the way to do just that.”

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, left, 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

Despite DePasquale's name recognition in the district — he also had been a state representative from York County — the former auditor general fared worse in 2020 than Scott, who was a little-known Democrat when he took on Perry in 2018.

Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District has included northern York County, part of Cumberland County and all of Dauphin County since 2018.

The new congressional map, chosen by the state Supreme Court last week to settle a deadlock, adds more of Cumberland County to the district.

More:York remains a county divided in Pennsylvania's new congressional map

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.

10th Congressional District candidates Republican Scott Perry, left, and Democrat George Scott, take part in a debate held by the Rotary Club of York at the Country Club of York, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Perry, who recently was elected chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, has refused to meet with the Jan. 6 committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol. The panel had sent him a letter asking that he sit for an interview and turn over documents.

In the letter, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, said the panel had received evidence from multiple witnesses, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, that Perry had “an important role” in efforts to install Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general, The Associated Press reported.

More:Scott Perry elected next chair of conservative House Freedom Caucus

More:Scott Perry part of top meeting with Trump officials as they plotted to reverse 2020 election: report

More:Rep. Scott Perry denies Jan. 6 panel's request for interview

Perry was cited more than 50 times in a Senate Judiciary report released in October outlining how Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his election defeat to Joe Biden brought the Justice Department to the brink of chaos and prompted top officials there and at the White House to threaten to resign.

Perry, who has continuously disputed the validity of Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, has said he obliged Trump’s request for an introduction to Clark, then an assistant attorney general whom Perry knew from unrelated legislative matters, according to AP. The three men went on to discuss their shared concerns about the election, Perry has said.

The Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania or any other state, and senior Justice Department officials dismissed Perry’s claims.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Feb. 28 statement from Eugene DePasquale:

Friends and Neighbors,

Over the past 11 months, I have actively explored another run for Congress in my home district of PA-10. However, after careful consideration, I’ve decided I will not be a candidate in 2022.

When I first entered public service, I did so because it felt like the best way to help families who faced the same challenges mine did growing up. The reason I care so much about issues like raising the minimum wage so people can live with dignity, or making sure anyone can see a doctor when they need one, is because I’ve lived those same struggles myself. That desire to bring meaningful change to people’s lives will not be deterred by today’s decision.

At the close of my last campaign, I spoke of the challenges we faced as Americans and the need for unity to meet them. Now, at a time of persistent inflation, global instability, and an ongoing assault on our institutions and rights, Scott Perry has done the opposite, perpetuating far-right conspiracies and trafficking in hostility and contempt. That is not leadership. The people of PA-10 deserve so much better.

While I had hoped for a fairer, more competitive district in which to run, the recent redistricting process has resulted in a district that, in my opinion, will continue to reward candidates who peddle in extremism and division. That is not who I am, and therefore, I do not see a path forward.

I am incredibly grateful for the support of my family, friends, donors and the activists who are the backbone of our campaign, and I am especially thankful to the voters who put their faith in me in each of my previous campaigns for office. It has been the honor of my life to serve the good people of this Commonwealth. The passion I have for solving our shared challenges has not and will not ever change, and neither will my desire to play a part in fixing them. It is my promise that I will find other ways to stay in the fight, because what lies ahead of us is just too important not to.

Thank you,