With control of the U.S. Senate set to be determined in the fall, Democratic primary candidate Conor Lamb, speaking in Williamsport on Saturday, underscored the importance of the upcoming election.
“This campaign is so important. The stakes are so incredibly high,” said Lamb.
“Serving in DC for the past few years, when we’ve been through so much, you really see, on the House side, how important it is to have one more Democratic senator, ideally two. We passed such a big slew of bills that don’t go anywhere there. They aren’t even debated. They don’t even talk about it. said Lamb.
“It’s unfortunate. The whole idea of the Senate is that it’s supposed to be a place where people debate the big issues of our time. Instead, they hide behind the filibuster and duck all their work », he added.
Lamb currently represents the state’s 17th congressional district, which includes much of the suburban Pittsburgh area and all of Beaver County. He won a special election in March 2018 and was re-elected in 2018 and 2020. He is running in the primary against fellow Democrats Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Malcolm Kenyatta and Alex Khalil. The candidates are seeking to fill the seat vacated by Republican Senator Pat Toomey who did not seek re-election.
Lamb, 37, who joked about someone asking if he was old enough to run for the Senate, told the group at the event that he had been through three campaigns in his home district which is very similar to this region.
He noted that Williamsport is reminiscent of the district he represents.
“Our party still has incredible potential to win in those places, we do,” he said.
“I know this is not what you would ever encounter reading in the national media or being here every day, seeing Trump signs and flags…but we have incredible potential to succeed in these areas if we can just go to those doors, to those people. living rooms, in front of them. Eliminate distractions and focus the problems on economic bread and butter,” he underlined.
Social Security and Medicare, according to Lamb, are the two most “powerful problems” in Pennsylvania which has an elderly electorate.
“And most Democratic candidates forget to talk about it,” Lamb affirmed.
“What’s the number one issue you’re hearing about in the national news right now – inflation. How many people in our state are living on a fixed income and as the cost of groceries and gas has gone up, what are they supposed to do?” Lamb asked.
“If this is the debate Republicans want to have in this general election, I can’t wait to get started. I don’t know if you noticed, they don’t have any answers on gas or groceries or inflation of any kind. It’s mainly because the whole world is going through this at the same time. We had a global pandemic and now a war. It is not the fault of any particular party or any particular country leader. That’s why it’s happening in Europe at the same time it’s happening to us and everywhere else,” he said.
Moving on from inflation, Lamb talked about Social Security and the fact that benefit increases are usually followed by an increase in Medicare payments canceling out any increases.
“That’s not true. The average Social Security payment in America at this point is $16,000 a year. That’s a pittance. he said, adding that in many cases other means of support such as pensions for retirees have been eliminated.
A bill that would fix the problem has no support from Republicans, Lamb said.
He also talked about another bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs to reduce costs, which would then increase the benefits included in Medicare. He noted that Republicans in the Senate filibustered and blocked the bill.
When asked after his presentation why Republicans focused more on cultural issues such as critical race theory, Lamb replied, “It’s because they don’t have anything to say to normal workers about the economy.”
“Let’s talk about the economy. Let’s talk about rising costs and how we help people reduce their costs. The Republicans have no idea about this, so they want to change conservation to critical race theory that isn’t even taught in our schools. They just want to change it into other things as a distraction,” he said.
“They’ve been doing the same things for years. Where has this got us? Like I said, we tried to run up Social Security checks the whole time I was in Congress without their help,” he said.
Lamb is the latest candidate to come to the region to seek support in the primary election to be held on May 17. Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter, who attended the event, sees the visits as a good thing.
“A lot of applicants come through Williamsport and Lycoming County. It is essential that we pay attention to each of the candidates who are running and what they stand for, the campaign and the issues they are running on,” said slaughter.
“From the mayor’s perspective, I think it’s great that they’re coming through Williamsport, to take the time. It shows that this area is very important to them,” he added.
In the past, Slaughter noted, the area was not visited by candidates, especially those running for the US Senate.
“To pass a sitting congressman, the lieutenant governor came and Attorney General (of the state) Shapiro, who is a gubernatorial candidate, will pass in the next few weeks.” said slaughter.
“My plea is just for people to be careful. Tell a friend of a friend. Make sure we go to the polls. Voting is extremely important. This election again and this primary, where historically people don’t come out as much in a primary as they do in an overall, we have to say to everyone – this primary is hugely important,” he added.
He highlighted everything that is happening in the state, the country and in the world, which makes it essential for people to vote in this election.
“Your elected officials matter. Your vote matters and the decisions they make obviously matter and affect us all. It is critical that we go out and exercise that right to vote,” said slaughter.
Local resident Sharon Koons, who attended the event, also sees this year’s elections as crucial.
“We cannot lose the Senate. If Republicans take control of the Senate, nothing will be done in the last two years of Biden’s administration. It will be the same as with (former President) Obama. They won’t let anything happen.” she says.
“It’s dangerous. I don’t think people take it seriously, how close we are to losing our democracy, especially after January 6,” she added.