A year and a half ago, congressional representation of my home neighborhood in Pennsylvania (Bala Cynwyd), right outside of Philadelphia, fell from the moderate but comparatively much better Democrat Joe Hoeffel (who looks even better in comparison to having Arlen Specter in the Senate) to Republican Jim Gerlach after the kind of redistricting that made our state the Supreme Court’s test case for gerrymandering. This November, it looks like NARAL PA President Lois Murphy (with the help of my friend the ferocious Lucy Kauffman) has a good shot at taking the seat for a real progressive:

Lois Murphy is challenging freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent winner over Dan Wofford (D) two years ago in a newly created district. Murphy, 41, lives in upper-crust Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County, graduated from Radcliffe and Harvard Law School, and has served as president of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania for more than 10 years. But that profile may give you the wrong impression about Murphy. She knows her campaign nuts and bolts, and I got the distinct feeling she has that relatively rare ability to connect with people of various backgrounds, She has a natural, down-to-earth quality. In other words, Gerlach, who doesn’t have the reputation of raising cash or running great campaigns, is in big, big trouble. Sure, Murphy is a liberal, and that’s a problem in parts of this district. In addition, since most of the 6th district is in the Philadelphia media market, it will be difficult for the challenger to get the visibility she needs to oust an incumbent. But her fundraising has been good, and Gerlach still has plenty to prove after his 2002 squeaker.


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