There is a “political revolution” stirring up in the newly redistricted Lehigh Valley. Pastor Greg Edwards is running for Congress in the 7th district and he is the most progressive candidate we have seen in the Valley. If Greg wins he will be the first Representative of color in the district’s history. The Lehigh Valley’s demographics have changed dramatically, going from a Republican stronghold to a more diverse and urban Democratic district filled with colleges. It is prime to be flipped; and, that is exactly what the Edwards campaign plans to do.
The Edwards campaign has taken the Valley by storm raising over $185,000 to date – $128,000 in the fourth quarter alone. The campaign finished 2017 with over $160,000 cash on hand, outraising every other candidate in the field (both parties) in the fourth quarter. This fundraising was accomplished with almost 5,000 individual small donations. His grassroots movement is volunteer-based and is powered by the people who want him to represent them in Congress. He shows up at every canvas, every meet-and-greet, and is engaging with the folks who are hitting the streets. His volunteers are passionate and excited to finally have a truly progressive candidate in Greg. Volunteers have opened up their homes to hold events and canvasses. They knock on doors filled with fire and speak of their personal experiences and belief in his policies. Watching them clap and sing at the campaign office barnstorm was evidence of how deeply they feel his campaign in their hearts.
Greg is a beloved Pastor in Allentown, as well as a community organizer and recipient of numerous Progressive awards such as the NAACP Man of Vision and the Peace Pilgrim of the Year. His platform is based on Medicare for all, universal Pre K and debt-free college, $15 minimum wage, and an assault weapons ban including an intriguing idea to insure gun owners like you would your car. Greg has earned the endorsement of the lion-share of progressive organizations including labor organizations such as the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, Justice Democrats, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Working Families Party, Women’s March PA, and Make the Road PA. He is also supported by many local City Council members.
The success of the Edwards campaign has made some Democratic party officials a little nervous. According to some recent reports, it appears that establishment Democrats are attempting to interfere. A staffer from the DCCC, Tim Persico, reportedly asked if Greg would step down in favor of an establishment-favored candidate with big donors.
I asked Greg about the campaign’s focus after being asked to step aside, especially since he stands out as the most progressive candidate to beat, and the only person of color in the race. He responded:
We are super excited about the momentum we are seeing on the ground and in our people-powered grassroots campaign. It is clear that not only are we building an incredible campaign sustained by enthusiastic and deeply committed volunteers, we are also building community and a political pipeline that the Lehigh Valley has never seen.
His vision of empowering the people of the 7th district to be educated and involved is refreshing, and he has been successful at bringing in those who once felt marginalized.
Grassroots campaigns like this are popping up everywhere in the country and they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Look no further Democrat Conor Lamb’s victory in this week’s special election in PA’s 18th district. Against all odds, outspent, and in a district that has only been represented by two Democrats since 1879, Lamb beat Donald Trump’s favored candidate, Rick Saccone by a few hundred votes. This narrow victory happened in a district that elected Donald Trump by a margin of 20 points. Lamb’s victory is demonstrative of what a real grassroots campaign can do. In 2016 Donald Trump won the 7th district by eight points. Just imagine what can happen here. It surely is indicative of the phenomenal power the people hold when they act in electoral politics. In the 2018 midterm elections, we might be witnessing history as the establishment’s standard for winning elections is flipped upside down by the folks in the streets knocking on doors, submitting small donations, and showing up at the polls.