GOP candidates compete in newly redrawn 11th district

Written by Marie Cusick | May 1, 2018 4:42 AM

Businessman Chet Beiler (L) and Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R). (Photo by Marie Cusick/WITF)

(Columbia) -- Businessman Chet Beiler and Rep. Lloyd Smucker are competing in the May 15th GOP primary for the 11th Congressional District.

Two years after Rep. Lloyd Smucker defeated businessman Chet Beiler in the Republican primary for Pennsylvania's 16th District, the two men are facing off again in the newly redrawn 11th District--which covers all of Lancaster County and southern York County.

At a forum Monday hosted by LNP in Columbia, they repeated familiar criticisms of each other.

Beiler hammered Smucker on his record during his first term in Congress, which he argues has not been conservative enough. Meanwhile, Smucker, a former state senator, reiterated his complaint  that Beiler lobs insults from the sidelines and doesn't have a track record in government.

Smucker said he got into politics because he saw, "a government overreach, that holds businesses back." He noted he was proud to work with his colleagues in Congress and the Trump administration on the recent tax overhaul.

"We're making tremendous progress," said Smucker. "I think this president has the chance of being one of the great presidents in the history of our country, and I'm proud to serve while he's there."

Both Beiler and Smucker agree on many issues--including promoting a business-friendly environment and rolling back burdensome regulations. They each said they're strong supporters of gun rights, but both said more should be done to promote school safety. Beiler and Smucker also support Trump's border wall and want to see immigration law updated.

"Obviously, there is a major problem with people overstaying their visas," said Beiler. "We need to be more vigilant on that front."

The two men sidestepped a question about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Smucker said cybersecutiry is important and then began discussing changes to welfare. Beiler also noted the importance of cybersecurity and started praising Trump's planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The tensest moment of the night came when the candidates were asked whether they'd pledge to have public, townhall forums. Smucker, who has not held such a forum yet, said he would need more than the allotted 30 seconds to answer the question.

"LNP has promoted this idea that I'm not accessible," he said, criticizing the news organization hosting the event.

Smucker recently defended his lack of public forums to LNP, writing that he does not want to give "a platform to paid political activists."

Beiler pledged to host quarterly, public town hall meetings with constituents.

The winner of the May primary will face Democrat Jessica King in the November general election.

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