Scott Wallace wants change, and he’s invested his own money with hopes that he can be that change for the district.
The 67-year-old Buckingham multi-millionaire makes no qualms about coming from wealth and also a family with a history of public service.
While being interviewed at his Doylestown Borough campaign headquarters, Wallace explained that he knew the moment the Republican-backed tax reform bill passed last year that he was going to invest the money he gained from the tax cuts into a run for office.
“The tax cut helped a lot of people who were not asking for it,” he said, expanding that he believes those without wealth should benefit the most from tax reform.
“The rich don’t pay their fair share.”
If elected on Tuesday, Wallace said he plans to immediately work to tackle the health care challenge, kick start a Herculean effort to fight climate change, work to make college more affordable, implement gun reform measures while still protecting the Second Amendment, work on broader tax reform, and phase in a plan to increase minimum wage.
One major issue he hears on the campaign trail is residents worried about health care. From the younger crowd, reform of gun laws is something they often mention.
Since jumping in the race, Wallace has battled the image that he is out of touch with the values of the district.
Knocking doors and meeting with community groups have been on Wallace’s agenda over the course of the campaign. The candidate, like his opponent did as a relative unknown in 2016, has also worked with Democratic committees throughout the First Congressional District to unite the party in the face of what has been expected to be a close election.
Explaining his local roots, Wallace, a husband and father of three, said the Buckingham home he lives is where he grew up.
Living there for his first 27 years, Wallace, who attended law school and worked as counsel in the U.S. Senate, said he held jobs at fast food chain Burger Chef in Doylestown and also a cabinetry mill, a trade he loves.
As a boy, Wallace grew up spending the day outside riding on bikes with friends and in the woods of Central Bucks County. He wonders where kids today spend much of their time, noting he doesn’t see as many outside as he remembers growing up.
“We didn’t even have a TV at home until I was 10 and it was a wooden box with a small screen,” he said with a chuckle.
Other fond memories from growing up were his time learning about the family chicken hatchery business and the trying to coaxing his father into allowing him to work there while in his youth.
Wallace’s father would let his sister raise a rooster every year while he was able to keep a racoon as a pet. Over the years, Wallace said with a laugh, the racoons all had the same name: “they were Wacky the Wacoon.”
Acknowledging his time living out of the district in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Maryland, Wallace said Bucks County is home and “it’s where I grew up.”
Wallace noted the public service that has run in his family, including the inspiration he received from his progressive grandfather, Vice President Henry Wallace, who served under Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also cited his parents’ work through their service to Planned Parenthood of Bucks County, the Buckingham Planning Commission, and other civic organizations.
“My dominant memory of my parents was the civic activism when I was growing up,” he said. “I remember stuffing envelopes for them and going to board meetings.”
That sense of service rubbed off on Wallace, who fellow Democrats have described as a “policy wonk.”
“I don’t really like labels, but you could say I do enjoy policy,” he said.
Wallace noted that sometimes he gets a bit “too into the weeds” when talking about issues.
More on the candidates’ policy positions:
In discussing the attack ads that have aired this season, Wallace said he had hoped the election would be issues-focused, adding he did not expect the campaign to be so dirty.
“There is some crazy stuff,” Wallace said of some of the attacks, adding he winches at ones that are demonstrably false.
Republicans have hit Wallace for donations from his family’s $100-plus million Wallace Global Fund.
When asked, Wallace said he’s proud of the programs the fund donated to while he was involved in the group. He said his efforts at the fund focused on reproductive rights, environmental issues, and expanding democracy.
Donations of several hundred thousand dollars to support a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel were from his brother who is more “radical left,” he said, adding his brother left the foundation when it reorganized in 2013.
Wallace explained that he met with members of the local Jewish community to explain the situation once the donations hit the press.
Recent bad press for the first-time candidate relating to a curse muttered in a place of worship during a political forum and a comment about police have given Republicans ammunition in flashy campaign ads, but Wallace said he wants to make his campaign about a “government that works for the working people.”
On the issue of tax reform, Wallace said he would advocate to close the loopholes that help the rich, foreign investors, and push for tax reform that would help everyday people. The reforms, he expects, would allow investment in infrastructure, additional job creation, expansion of high-speed internet in rural areas, and investment in moving away from America’s dependency on fossil fuels.
During his campaign, he has told voters about how powerful Bucks County’s three technical high school are and how they are doing a “fantastic job.” However, he said he wants to see more investment in those schools.
Spending time in the nature of Central Bucks County growing up spurred Wallace to focus on the environment. He’s not afraid to admit his plans are ambitious and he has previously described his desire to have a an “Apollo-like” program to move the country to green energy. The positives would be the investment, creation of new jobs, and protection of the planet, he said.
His campaign, he explained, was not about taking down Republican President Donald Trump – although Trump has become a frequent mention on the stump – but helping those who need it the most.
In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, he was asked about whether he would vote to impeach Trump. Wallace said: “Democrats, everybody needs to take a deep breath and allow Robert Mueller to do his job.”
When asked about Trump’s recent position of talking to Republican voters about a caravan of migrants that will arrive at the American border with Mexico within weeks, Wallace said the president is “part of a campaign based on fear and division.”
“Fear is an ugly thing that drives people,” he said.
For Wallace, he believes in “service to everyday people.”