Gerlach's Democratic opponent is Lois Murphy, a lawyer who lives in the affluent Main Line area outside Philadelphia. Murphy ran against Gerlach two years ago and came within 6,500 votes of beating the incumbent thanks largely to John Kerry’s coattails. She's back again, running essentially the same campaign she did in 2004.
The Gerlach-Murphy contest is one of the most closely watched in the country as Democrats attempt to regain control of Congress. The Democrats need to pick up 15 House seats and five Senate seats to wrest control from the Republicans.
Because Gerlach narrowly won re-election two years ago, he is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress. Democrats smell blood and have sent in the wolves to do battle on behalf of Murphy, who could use all the help she can get.
The Harvard-educated Murphy is probably a smart woman, but she's a terrible campaigner, spouting off Democratic talking points by rote. She has yet to give voters in the 6th District a single reason she deserves to go to Congress other than she's not Jim Gerlach.
Murphy has never held political office, although she served as a campaign coordinator for Gov. Ed Rendell four years ago. She's been active in various liberal causes through the years, and if voters are being asked to judge Murphy by the company she keeps, she's in trouble.
Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal who fancies herself the next Speaker of the House should the Democrats win in November, is featured prominently under the list of supporters on Murphy's Web site. The ACLU is also in Murphy's camp, sponsoring attack ads on Gerlach. Murphy is also backed by labor unions, the pro-abortion lobby and an assortment of shadowy liberal political action groups.
Murphy is more comfortable at a cocktail party with Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer than at a factory, a farm or a middle-class neighborhood in the 6th District, which stretches across three suburban Philadelphia counties.
Which brings me to the point about why Murphy doesn't fit in with 6th District voters. Her campaign and Democratic Party operatives working on her behalf have bombarded voters with glossy mailings blaming Gerlach for high gas prices, the war in Iraq, global warming and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania.
Somebody should tell Murphy that her doom-and-gloom assessment of Pennsylvania's economy differs greatly from the positive spin Gov. Ed Rendell is putting on the state's business climate. Rendell is Murphy's honorary campaign chairman, but the two apparently are not on speaking terms because they can’t seem to coordinate their political attacks.
A recent Murphy mailing caught my attention because it began with the words "Dear Neighbor." That's rich. Lois Murphy is not my neighbor. She's a puppet of the far left who wouldn't have a reason to be in my neighborhood unless her limousine had a flat tire. Murphy isn't comfortable mingling with the common folk in the 6th District.
She reminds me of John Kerry during campaign stops. Murphy was extremely uncomfortable at a recent stop at a senior citizens' center. This wasn't the country club set that a limousine liberal like Lois Murphy is used to hanging out with.
And Murphy couldn't find her way to one of the sprawling family farms in Berks or Chester counties if you gave her a map and a compass. It's hard to represent a district when you've purposely avoided visiting 90 percent of it. In contrast, Gerlach spends a lot of time talking to regular people in his district about what's on their minds.
Murphy is wrong for the 6th District in so many ways. The bulk of the 6th District is fiscally conservative, including most of the registered Democrats. Lois is a tax-and-spend liberal.
This is a woman who served as president and a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania. NARAL is a lobbying group that pushes its pro-abortion agenda and threatens politicians who dare vote for parental notification when a child seeks an abortion.
Murphy goes to great lengths to avoid taking a stand on important issues. Would 6th District voters support someone who wants to raise taxes, give amnesty to illegal aliens, raid the Social Security Trust Fund, surrender to the terrorists in Iraq and force socialized medicine on Americans? Lois Murphy's marching orders come directly from Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and their positions are clear.
On her Web site and in campaign literature, Lois Murphy asks the question, "Wouldn't it be great to be represented by someone who shares your values and will stand up for what is right?"
I couldn't agree more with Murphy. I want a member of Congress who shares my values and stands up for what's right. That's why I'm voting for Jim Gerlach.
Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org