Calling all challengers: It's time to stand up and oust Scott Perry

York Dispatch editorial board

Please stop us if you've heard this before, but ...

Scott. Perry. Must. Go.

In a perfect world, voters would've ousted him in 2018 — and they almost did — or in 2020. Or he would've been shamed into resignation for his efforts to undermine our very democracy, promoting hair-brained conspiracy theories and trying his darndest to overturn the results of the 2020 election. (Yes, the same 2020 election that returned him to Congress for a fifth term.)

Perry, as history has shown, is quite resilient — like a barnacle clinging to the hull of democracy. For now, at least, he's corroded the will of any potential 2022 challenger who could possibly remove him.

His 2020 opponent, former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, bowed out of the 10th congressional race, citing the newly drawn district lines that made the 10th just a shade redder.

Demonstrators march during a protest outside Congressman Scott Perry's West Manchester Township office Thursday,  Jan. 6, 2022. About 30 demonstrators marked the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol with the event which was sponsored by CASA. Bill Kalina photo

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

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"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," DePasquale said, in his announcement. "That is not who I am, and therefore I do not see a path forward."

That rationale rings a bit hollow.

The district is only 1 percentage point more Republican-leaning than it was in 2020, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis, and it's hard to imagine a map that could've been significantly more competitive.

After all, it still includes most of the key population centers of central Pennsylvania. Tipping the scales much further toward Democrats would've required a gerrymander the likes of which we haven't seen since the Republican-drawn map of 2011.

George Scott, a Lutheran minister who came close to unseating Perry in 2018, has similarly begged off — albeit without blaming the Supreme Court map.

"I'm back in ministry, and I'm happy to be back serving in that capacity," he said Tuesday. "I hope we get a strong candidate — it's important that we give voters a choice."

So far, the only possible challenger who's publicly chimed in is Gene Stilp, a longtime Harrisburg activist best remembered for bringing props such as an inflatable pig to the Capitol to protest legislative pay raises.

Stilp himself noted that his candidacy would be a placeholder until the Democratic Party could coalesce behind someone else.

And the clock is ticking.

The deadline to gather signatures to appear on the May primary ballot is March 15.

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)

Pennsylvania's 10th deserves an alternative to Scott Perry, whether that person is a Democrat or perhaps a more rational member of what we used to call the Grand Old Party.

At this point, we don't much care who steps up.

We just need someone — anyone — who's willing to uphold the traditional American values of freedom, equality and integrity. The stakes could not be higher.