Maria Montero's entry into PA-7 congressional race focuses on families, the economy
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — As the Lehigh Valley's high-stakes 2024 congressional campaign gets underway, Republican Maria Montero set a different tone in a race that's sure to attract withering attacks.
Months after Lehigh Valley residents were bombarded with negative attack ads on television, internet and radio, Montero sidestepped opportunities to swipe at her opponents during an interview with LehighValleyNews.com last week.
- Maria Montero wants to become the Republican nominee for the Lehigh Valley's congressional district in 2024
- The Easton resident said she would prioritize empowering women and families, and wants to cut federal spending to get inflation under control
- Montero is one of three Republicans hoping to take on three-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild
Instead, the Easton resident focused on her desire to empower women and families in an uphill battle with runaway costs and staggering inflation.
"Serving my community has always been my number one priority. I am not running against anyone. I am running for America," she said.
Montero, an Easton resident who split her childhood in Allentown and Summit Hill, said her life experiences have allowed her to know Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District's disparate communities firsthand.
As the daughter of a first-generation American, she knows the challenges immigrants and non-English speaking residents face, she said. As a single mother, she said she knows how critical it is for women to have a support system to allow them to pursue career opportunities and education.
She previously worked in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration and serves on the DeSales University Board of Trustees.
"All this makes me someone who fights harder as someone who can relate and understand," Montero said.
"I am not running against anyone. I am running for America."Maria Montero, Republican candidate for Congress
If elected, Montero said she would look for ways to rein in federal spending to stabilize the economy. She said she would look to cut pork and seek out more efficient government practices to bring costs under control. She compared it to household spending, saying people cut at the margins while doing their best to preserve essentials.
Those essentials, she said, include fully funding the military, supporting law enforcement and investing in American infrastructure.
In the interview, Montero voiced support for the bipartisan infrastructure deal Congress passed last year but afterward texted criticisms of the law. While she backed improvements to the nation's roads, bridges and especially broadband internet, she said the bill was too fat because it increased the national deficit by $256 billion.
"This is not the America I grew up in," Montero said. "Inflation has crippled all of our pocket books. People are not happy right now. They are concerned. They are upset. They are trying to figure out ways to get second jobs to put food on the table."
Montero's campaign won't be an easy one. The 2024 Republican primary already includes candidates Kevin Dellicker and state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, and there's time for others to join the fray.
Dellicker ran a strong grassroots campaign that nearly upset favorite Lisa Scheller in the 2022 Republican primary, and he said he's only grown his resources since then. Mackenzie has represented western Lehigh County in Harrisburg for over a decade and has showcased his fundraising abilities in the past. After redistricting merged his state House seat with Rep. Gary Day's district, Mackenzie dropped more than $215,000 to win the conservative district last year.
The winner of the Republican congressional primary will likely face three-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild in what should be among the most expensive House races in the country.
PA-7 is one of a handful of districts that political observers have labeled an even toss-up, making it an enticing target, especially with the U.S. House so narrowly divided. Both parties have vowed to spend heavily to win the seat; the 2022 campaign saw candidates and their allies drop a combined $24 million.