A philanthropic millionaire, a U.S. Navy veteran, and a passionate environmentalist walked into the race for congress a few months ago.
On Tuesday, Democrats will pick one of them to take on whomever wins the Republican primary – moderate incumbent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick or President Donald Trump supporting Dean Malik – in this fall’s general election.
Candidates Scott Wallace, Rachel Reddick, and Steve Bacher have been visible over the winter and spring. At times, the campaign between Wallace and Reddick has been tense, filled with TV commercials, seemingly endless mailers, and sparring between supporters on Facebook.
Although Wallace received the endorsement from the Bucks County Democratic Committee and some of the county’s top party members, Reddick has received her share of support from voters, the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, and several political action committees (PACs), including a TV commercial supporting Reddick that began airing this week from PAC With Honor.
“This election will not be decided by political insiders or the status quo, but instead by the amazing people in our community,” Reddick said earlier this campaign season after learning Bucks County Democrats endorsed Wallace.
Reddick, a veteran and attorney in her 30s, has framed her campaign by noting her Bucks County roots, family’s military service, support for core Democratic values, and opposition to many of Trump’s proposals. Another note the campaign has hit in recent months is its fight against political insiders.
Early in her campaign, NewtownPANow.com broke the story that Reddick was registered as a Republican for much of her adult life. She chalked the issue up to growing up in a conservative household and supporting Democratic candidates for a decade before changing her registration shortly before announcing her run for congress last year.
“I want to be crystal clear, I am a proud Democrat. I am dedicated to progressive values, like universal access to healthcare, a fair and just economy and tax plan, protecting everyone’s civil rights, taking better care of our veterans, reasoned and accountable national security, and fact-based environmental policies,” she said at the time.
Wallace, an attorney and wealthy philanthropist in his mid-60s, has framed himself as a lifelong Democrat who has worked to maintain progressive values and opposes Trump’s agenda. In his campaign announcement, Wallace said he plans to bring “real change to Washington.”
In addition to the Bucks County Democratic Committee’s support, Wallace, who worked with the Senate years ago, has received praise and support from Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia. When he announced his run, Wallace said he only stepped up after Ellis-Marseglia rejected his request to run for the seat.
To show off his Democratic credentials, Wallace has proudly told voters across the county that his grandfather, Henry A. Wallace, served as Secretary of Agriculture, vice president for Franklin D. Roosevelt during his third term, and later as Secretary of Commerce. His grandfather also had a failed bid for the presidency, including one under the very-liberal-for-its-time Progressive Party. His grandfather’s own father was Secretary of Agriculture under two presidents and died of a heart attack while in office.
While Wallace has dumped nearly a million dollars into his campaign in its first months, some Democrats and Republicans have hit him on his wealth and the fact that he resided at a home in Bethesda, Maryland, and in South Africa. Wallace has said at public events that he currently lives in the Central Bucks County home he grew up in and that has been in his family for decades.
In a campaign spot that aired in April, Reddick’s campaign said “Scott Wallace isn’t one of us” and cited his home in Maryland and South Africa.
Dan Wasserman of the Cook Political Report noted in an entry that Wallace’s ties to country clubs in South Africa would be red meat for Republicans planning attack ads for the general election.
In recent weeks, signs that state “Silver spoon Scott Wallace has never voted in Bucks County” have popped up from Quakertown to Bristol Township. The signs do not list who paid for them (a must with political signs) and have been shrouded in mystery with numerous candidates and PACs being rumored as being behind them. The Wallace campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the signs.
These signs popping up across Bucks County have no paid for disclosure. The race is getting ugly. pic.twitter.com/CEUiGKgho4
— Tom Sofield (@BuxMontNews) May 1, 2018
The signs fit the the narrative from some Democrats and Republicans that the wealthy millionaire is out of touch with Bucks County voters.
Philly.com reviewed Wallace’s financial disclosure form and reported his net worth is between $127 million and $309 million. His campaign said his net worth was closer to $100 million.
“That would make him the third-richest member of Congress if he joined the deep-pocketed chamber today,” the news organization wrote.
Wallace at debates and other public events does not often boast about his wealth but has played up his start as a Burger Chef employee and his first jobs. When his wealth is discussed, he talks about his support of progressive causes and role in the Wallace Global Fund.
Although Bacher has been mainly left out of the sparring between Wallace and Reddick, the Lower Makefield environmentalist has been active on the campaign trail. At the Bucks County Community College debate, Bacher talked policy with the other two candidates.
“I entered this race to run a positive issue-based campaign,” Bacher said in his TV spot that started airing in the final days of the campaign.
With Democrats hoping for a “blue wave” of support to take control of congress this fall, Bucks County is shaping up to once-again be a key battleground.