Delaware Valley Journal has undertaken a series highlighting upcoming Delaware Valley political races. An important race for Chester County is that for freshman Pennsylvania State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, who made much of her campaign a referendum on the Mariner East pipeline project (or at least the portion in Southeast Pennsylvania).
Though we encourage everyone to read the full piece, we wanted to highlight some particularly noteworthy details from the piece:
For background on Friel Otten’s career, the Journal notes that,
“Friel Otten came to prominence as a one-issue candidate: Opposing the Mariner East 2 pipeline being constructed in her community.
She organized local residents who were unhappy about problems arising around the construction of the pipeline — sinkholes, mud spills and the like — along with her fellow green activists who oppose expanded fossil fuel use in general. Friel Otten, for example, is an outspoken opponent of fracking.
‘There was a group of us who sat around our patio last summer and we talked about what can we do, what are our next steps,” Friel Otten has said, “and we agreed that we needed to get people to step up and run.’”
But what we weren’t aware of was the quarter-million dollar war chest Friel Otten was able to assemble to spend on her first race. This seems like an usually large amount and the article writes:
“She defeated a popular GOP incumbent, Becky Corbin, with a combination of grassroots support from local pipeline opponents and a flood of money from outside environmental activists. Not many first-time state rep candidates have the benefit of $250,000 in campaign cash.”
In a few short weeks, Friel Otten will face off with GOP challenger Michael Taylor who, despite trailing the incumbent in fundraising, is optimistic provided the breakdown of registered Republican versus their Democrat counterparts in the district.
Taylor has received endorsements from both the Chester County and Pennsylvania chambers of commerce, plus the local Fraternal Order of Police and the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. Taylor is running on a platform opposite many of Friel Otten’s position, which include:
“Friel Otten consistently opposed legislative efforts targeting Gov. Tom Wolf over how he was granting exemptions to his non-life sustaining business lockdowns, and bills expanding the number of Pennsylvania businesses that could reopen. It’s yet another example of Friel Otten practicing progressive politics in a region best known for its political moderation.
For example, she’s joined a group of legislators to address “period poverty” — access to feminine hygiene products — including a bill that “would require state prisons to provide at least two varieties of sanitary pads and two varieties of tampons to all female inmates at no cost.”
Prisoners who wanted to access the free products “would not have to demonstrate proof of need” to receive them.
And Taylor has called upon Friel Otten to renounce her endorsement by the far-left Working Families Party, which supports defunding the police.”
The Taylor / Friel Otten race is shaping up to be an interesting one, and there is little doubt that union members and pipeline workers strongly remember Friel Otten’s tweet comparing those in the pipeline industry and associated workers to Nazis.
Hat tip to the Delaware Valley Journal for keeping an eye on this. Projects like the Mariner East pipeline shouldn’t be as contentious as they have become; a large factor in this has been Rep. Friel Otten’s shrill calls from Harrisburg.