Republicans very recently used to dominate the locale composing much of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District. Geographically overlapping with much of the erstwhile 7th district (nixed four years ago by the state supreme court), the Delaware-County-based territory had Republican Pat Meehan as its U.S. representative from 2011 to 2018. Before Meehan’s predecessor Joe Sestak (D) won the seat for a pair of two-year terms, GOP Congressman Curt Weldon held it for two decades.
The district today is, well, different: Republicans’ old stronghold of Delaware County has flipped Democratic (though the GOP still fares well in some municipalities). And anyone waging a general-election campaign against Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon must also make inroads in south Philadelphia, Lower Merion, Upper Merion, Narberth, Bridgeport, and Norristown – all places where “blue” voters have long outnumbered “red” ones.
Still, possibilities for GOP upsets abound in 2022: This week, Republican Mayra Flores bested Democrat Dan Sanchez in a special election for a South Texas congressional seat that the latter party held for over a century. President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are severely underwater. Political scientist Ruy Teixeira, who once preached optimism about his fellow Democrats’ electoral fortunes, recently posited they will need “an exogenous shock to the system” to moderate their ideology and their image to prevent serious near-term losses.
Dave Galluch, a Navy veteran and a senior manager at Comcast who lives in Newtown Square, aims to cause such an upset for Scanlon this November.
Born in the Buffalo, New York, suburb of Hamburg, Galluch lost his father to a drunk driver before he was born. He credits his mother – who often worked two jobs while raising him and who eventually co-founded a youth gymnastics center – with imparting much of the durability and selflessness that he recalls served him well on the battlefield and in his civic pursuits.
“She really set an example for me of what is achievable when you work really hard and you have the grit and the determination to overcome adverse circumstances,” Galluch told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. “I was really proud of my mom; watching her achieve that from the circumstances where she started was super-impressive to me … . Her example of fighting for me made me want to do it for other people.”
Having completed undergraduate studies at the United States Naval Academy and a graduate degree in developmental economics at the University of Cambridge, he would serve his country as a Navy Special Operations Officer in various Middle Eastern and African theaters. While in the Gulf of Aden, he worked to prevent the flow of weaponry between Yemen and Somalia. Later he worked in explosive-threat reduction in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Galluch moved to Pennsylvania after his honorable discharge from the Navy in 2019 so that he and his wife, Caroline, who hails from Delaware, could live near her family. He has not held elected office but has knocked on doors and performed other volunteer activities for Republican candidates in and around Newtown Square. Observing the consequences of leftists’ capture of both Congress and the White House, he’s seen what he calls a “steady erosion in the time-honored traditions of American leadership” that spurred his interest in representing his community in Congress.
Galluch cites the anti-police riots and accompanying progressive calls to “defund the police” as well as the chaotic American pullout from Afghanistan as moments exemplifying that erosion.
“No matter what side of the aisle we’re on or what side of the philosophical spectrum we’re on, we deserve better leadership than we’re getting,” he said.
Discussing his policy priorities, he first mentioned halting the inflation that has raged for months – reaching a 40-year high of 8.6 percent a week ago – and which has been intensified by extravagant federal spending. That is an area for which he believes Scanlon bears much blame; she has voted consistently for massive spending increases and has tried to enact even broader expansions of social programs via the proposed Build Back Better Act, a measure priced by the Congressional Budget Office at over $4.5 trillion that passed the House of Representatives but has stalled in the Senate.
On the issue of job creation, Galluch maintained that Washington should foster a new vision for economic achievement that breaks out of the “college or bust” model under which many young people are persuaded to get bachelor’s degrees that often don’t provide the practical skills that many blue-collar trades prevalent in the 5th District require.
On energy policy, he supports building a liquefied natural gas export terminal in the city of Chester; Scanlon, by contrast, has favored subsidies for “green” energy that has yet to nearly match the efficiency of natural gas and other fossil fuels.
Another matter on which Galluch said he would offer better policy than the incumbent is support for law enforcement. Scanlon is sponsoring the Mental Health Justice Act, a measure to incentivize states and localities to shift funding away from law enforcers in favor of “mental health professionals.” The congresswoman endured heavy scrutiny for sponsoring that bill after she got carjacked in Philadelphia last December and thanked the police for their response to the incident.
“She’s not spending enough time in the district,” Galluch said of his rival. “She’s not spending enough time delivering for the district … . A common rejoinder I hear around the district is ‘I just don’t feel like our leadership is focused on life in PA-5 and on the values and on the issues and on the policies that matter to people here … .’ I’m going to be focused on the district first and not my politics first, and I think Congresswoman Scanlon has had the opposite priorities.”
Scanlon’s campaign did not return an email for comment on her opponent or the issues he raised about her.
Galluch’s overtures to voters have gotten off to a robust start. He and his team have knocked on well over 3,000 doors so far this year and, on Primary Day last month alone, they visited nearly all of the district’s municipalities, including all 49 in Delaware County.
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