Maria Montero emerges as the first Republican challenger in the Lehigh Valley's 2024 congressional race
EASTON, Pa. — The first Republican challenger for next year's Lehigh Valley congressional race has formally entered the race, kicking off what should be one of the nation's most hotly contested campaigns for a seat in the U.S. House.
Maria Montero, who served in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring her candidacy for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District. The Schuylkill County native doesn't appear to have an online presence for her campaign yet.
- Maria Montero, a longtime trustee of DeSales University, has formally entered the Lehigh Valley's 2024 congressional race as a Republican
- She'll hope to take on Democratic incumbent Susan Wild, who is seeking her fourth term in office
- She'll likely face off against Kevin Dellicker, an Air Force National Guard intelligence officer who sought the GOP nomination in the 2022 campaign
Montero is no newcomer to the Lehigh Valley. The 46-year-old Republican previously worked as the editor of the now-defunct El Torero newspaper in Allentown and has served on DeSales University's Board of Trustees for nearly a decade.
She did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Montero will aim to take on Democratic incumbent Susan Wild in one of the nation's most competitive congressional districts. Unlike many congressional seats throughout the country, PA-7 is a true toss-up, and both major parties have pumped millions of dollars into the races here in recent elections. The 2022 race saw politicos throw $24 million into the contest that Wild won by two percentage points over Republican challenger Lisa Scheller. Montero hasn't filed her first campaign finance report, while Wild reported having $422,976 on hand at the end of March.
Montero may find herself in a crowded Republican field in the near future. Kevin Dellicker, an Air Force National Guard intelligence officer from Heidelberg Township, is expected to announce his candidacy; his campaign website tells would-be donors an announcement will be coming soon. Dellicker nearly upset Scheller in the 2022 GOP primary despite being heavily outspent by the Allentown millionaire. In his previous campaign, Dellicker supported a tougher relationship with China and a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade; the U.S. Supreme Court has since overturned Roe.
State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, is also rumored to be considering a run for Congress. Mackenzie has previously mounted a congressional run in 2018 but dropped out after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the old district map as too gerrymandered. He currently represents northwestern Lehigh County.
It was not immediately clear if Scheller will throw her hat into the ring again. 2022 marked her second loss to Wild in as many campaigns, and her campaign website from the 2022 race is no longer active.
Wild has had to walk a narrow line through her three terms in the tightly divided Congress. The Lehigh Valley has long favored moderate candidates, and Wild has campaigned on her ability to work across the aisle since emerging as a candidate in 2018. She's touted her Regional Technology and Innovation Hub program, an economic development plan that was incorporated into the bipartisan CHIPS an Science Act. The program, which is now fielding applications, would provide select communities with millions of dollars to develop their technology sectors. The larger bill is intended to boost America's production of semiconductors and other essential technologies.
At the same time, she has been a reliable Democratic vote, drawing attacks from conservatives for a voting record identical to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's in 2022. Scheller's campaign worked hard to link Wild to Pelosi and President Joe Biden, arguing the Valley needed to send someone to Washington willing to stand up against Democratic leadership.