Ryan Mackenzie formally enters Lehigh Valley's congressional race
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, a veteran Lehigh County legislator, officially kicked off his campaign Wednesday in the 2024 race for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District.
"I'm running for Congress because we are losing our country. We need a representative in Washington who will do what they say," he said.
Mackenzie, a Lower Macungie Township resident who has served in the statehouse since 2012, said in an interview that his record in Harrisburg and conservative bona fides make him the clear choice in the race. Among his biggest accomplishments was helping reform the state's unemployment system during the Corbett administration, he said, first as a policy director for the Department of Labor and Industry and later as a state representative. By refinancing debt and changing the benefits structure, the state pulled the system out of insolvency, Mackenzie said.
- On Wednesday, state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie became the third Republican to challenge for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District in 2024
- Mackenzie has served in Harrisburg for 11 years, representing western Lehigh County
- Should he win the GOP primary, Mackenzie will take on Democratic incumbent Susan Wild in one of the most competitive House seats in the nation
If elected, Mackenzie said he would work to rein in government spending, blaming it for the runaway inflation the country has grappled with for months. He also said he would bring the fight to tech and social media companies he said have censored conservatives and stifled free speech. He went on to rail against school districts that he said have focused on divisive topics such as racial issues instead of essentials.
"I think we need to get back to the basics of teaching our children things like reading, writing, arithmetic," he said. "Those things are being crowded out by other topics and adults that have political agendas."
Mackenzie will need to emerge from a growing field of Republican candidates. Kevin Dellicker, an intelligence officer with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and Maria Montero, who served in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, already have entered the race.
But Mackenzie is the only one who has emerged victorious at the polls before. His last election may have been his toughest. Redistricting forced pitted him against fellow Republican incumbent Gary Day when their western Lehigh County seats were merged. Mackenzie dipped into a massive war chest to help him emerge on top, spending more than $215,000 ahead of the primary.
"I've never lost an election, and I don't intend to start now," the 41-year-old said Wednesday.
If Mackenzie does pull out the Republican nomination, things may not get any easier in the general election. District 7, which includes Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties along with a sliver of Monroe County, is almost evenly split between registered Democrats and Republicans. Political observers have labeled the districts as one of the few true toss-ups districts in the country.
As a result, both major parties have spent lavishly in past elections in their bids to control the House. In 2022, the candidates, parties and their allies burned through $24 million in the campaign, and more of the same is expected in 2024.