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Rep. Scott Perry, George Scott bring civility to second 10th District debate

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
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

The second 10th Congressional District debate between Republican Rep. Scott Perry and Democratic challenger George Scott might have been more tame than their first, but candidates' policies remained as conflicting as ever.

The debate between the two candidates hoping to win the conservative district on Nov. 6 was broadcast live on WGAL-TV on Thursday, Oct. 18, from the station’s studio in Lancaster. 

Perry, a three-term incumbent, is vying for another two years in the now-10th District, which was renamed and reconfigured after the state Supreme Court imposed another congressional map earlier this year. 

Scott's momentum: Scott is running off momentum from recent polling and fundraising efforts.

In the latest quarter, his campaign raised more than $900,000, and Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling firm, last week reported Scott is just one point behind Perry as Election Day nears. 

While the analytics website FiveThirtyEight also recently predicted it’s most likely Scott will fall four points short of Perry, a Democratic win by up to 11 points still falls in the spectrum of possibility. 

More:Political analyst calls 10th Congressional race one of Pa.'s most competitive

More:New poll shows George Scott one point behind Rep. Scott Perry

In a debate last month at the Country Club of York, Perry went on the defensive after Scott accused the Freedom Caucus, of which Perry is a member, of hindering the legislative progress with hyper-partisanship.

In this Oct. 6, 2018 photo, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania speaks to a party committeeman at a rally with volunteer canvassers, in Harrisburg, Pa. A court-ordered redrawing of Pennsylvania's House districts has forced several Republican congressmen, including Perry, into more competitive seats and helped establish Pennsylvania as a key state for Democrats aiming to recapture the House majority. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

When talking about the group of Congress' most conservative members Thursday, Perry calmly explained that the group was formed so legislators could listen to constituents rather than party leadership.

Despite the civil nature of the debate, policies still showed a stark divide between the two candidates.

Policy differences: When prodded on health care, Perry said the country needs to abandon the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," because it's "failing" the nation.

"We all knew we wanted to repeal 'Obamacare,'" he said. "It’s so bad, even Democrats are running away from it."

Both candidates agreed pre-existing conditions should be covered under any health care plan, but Scott said Congress should improve on the imperfect ACA.

His recommendations include exploring options beyond an individual mandate, implementing a "Medicare buying option" to decrease costs and reinstating a price subsidy for those who can't afford health care.

The two candidates also drew a thick line between their desire — or lack thereof — to raise the minimum wage.

Perry said the minimum wage shouldn't be raised because it's for workers "who are just starting out," suggesting the country instead should reduce taxes to keep more money in citizens' pockets.

Scott, on the other hand, suggested Congress implement a policy that would raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2024, after which an index would be applied to let the wage fluctuate as the value of the U.S. dollar changes.

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

Opinions on Trump policies: The most prominent differences between the candidates' views might have come when pressed on policies favored by President Donald Trump.

Perry said that while Trump is a "disruptor" and he may make people uncomfortable, Perry is supportive of his policies. FiveThirtyEight has tracked his record, and the website reported Perry votes along with Trump 89.5 percent of the time.

On the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for example, Scott said the top 1 percent of the country benefits most while the rest of citizens are being left behind. The Democrat suggested a more equal distribution of benefits instead.

While Perry also emphasized fiscal responsibility, the Republican once again said taxes should be lowered to keep money in citizens' pockets and the government should instead reduce unnecessary spending.

Another desire of the president is to build a border wall along the southern part of the country, an idea that Scott said he opposed and Perry said he supported.

Scott suggested the government should increase training and resources for those patrolling the border and rely on technological advancements to improve security rather than a physical divide between the U.S. and Mexico.

But Perry said although the border wall would be a fiscal challenge, he voiced confidence in receiving financial help from Mexico to help build the wall — a proposal that the Mexican government has already hit with a strong "no."

Perry said Mexico might not pay for the entire wall, but they should feel obligated to help pay for the wall because of the two counties' trade relationship.

"Everybody wants to trade with the U.S.," Perry elaborated after the debate. "If you want to trade with us, we have some rules with it."

The two candidates also briefly battled on the tariffs the Trump administration has recently slapped on other nations.

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 said although he doesn't like the idea of tariffs, the government "has few options," and tariffs might be the safest bet.

Scott said there are more options than Perry might think, suggesting the country "rely on diplomacy" and working with the World Trade Organization to restore harmony to what's now a trade war.

Other policies: Trump policies aside, the candidates also went back and forth about campaign financing, climate change and gun reform.

Scott has often touted his campaign as a grassroots effort, as he's declined to take money from corporate political action committees.

But Perry, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from PACs, said he appreciates financial support "regardless of where it comes from." 

On climate change, Perry said it is without a doubt that humans "have a part" in contributing to the weather abnormalities, but it's unknown to what extent. He then went on to commend the country for working toward natural gas initiatives.

That wasn't good enough for Scott, who added natural gas still contributes to climate change.

"The rate of (climate) change is the issue," Scott said. "It can potentially have a drastic effect on our children and grandchildren."

Scott instead suggested the country  implement a carbon fee and distribute the money gained from those fees to consumers to make the process "revenue neutral." 

In terms of the hot-button gun reform debate, both candidates boasted  their support of the Second Amendment.

Perry said the country "shouldn't sensationalize the problem," and that most gun-related deaths are from suicide. 

But he also emphasized that mental health's correlation to gun violence needs to be looked into further.

While Scott agreed that mental health is important, he also suggested banning "battlefield weapons" and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should study gun violence.

"That will give us a basis of evidence to look forward from," he said.

The two did come to a firm agreement on one problem in the country: the wage gap.

In terms of the wage gap between female and male workers in the country, both candidates said Congress should actively work to close the gap and that women should, without a doubt, be paid the same as men.

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

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