“I think Jim Jordan might inadvertently be helping me.” Shamaine Daniels talks getting her name out there in PA-10
Daniels, the contender hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Scott Perry, says she’s satisfied with her current strategy.
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PA Republican Representative Scott Perry has not felt this pressure in a while.
Since he rose to represent PA’s District 10, the Republican ran unopposed by the GOP in the primaries and has faced down all Democratic competition to date. In 2018, Perry defeated George Scott, a Lieutenant Colonel, and ministry pastor, by a roughly three-point margin.
Two years later, Perry sailed into the 2020 primaries unopposed again in the GOP primaries, and ran a successful race against Democrat Eugene DePasquale, a career politician who served as PA Auditor General, in addition to serving in the House of Representatives for the Commonwealth’s 95th district.
The margin between Perry and DePasquale was wider, with roughly a six-point difference in the general election.
Perry seemingly runs a smooth operation — he doesn’t need to work too hard during the race and strolls through a victory lap. But in 2020, Perry caught the stain of election interference theories espoused by former Republican president Donald Trump and it has left a trail behind his candidacy.
As findings from the Jan. 6 committee closed in, Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI for a probe, given Perry’s proximity to election tampering when Joe Biden was declared the elected winner in 2020.
Perry repeatedly declined to appear before the Jan. 6 committee and it has cast a large shadow over election integrity, though no evidence of widespread fraud was discovered.
It almost didn’t matter. DePasquale and Scott dropped from the 2022 races ahead of the primary, albeit for different reasons. Scott was happy to be back in ministry.
“I'm happy to be back serving in that capacity," he told The York Dispatch in May.
"I hope we get a strong candidate — it's important that we give voters a choice,” he added to his statement.
DePasquale, whose candidacy was expected as one of the tightest and lost by 6.6 points, cited redistricting concerns and did not feel like leading “a district that, in my opinion, will continue to reward candidates who peddle in extremism and division," DePasquale also told The York Dispatch.
Redistricting lent the district to the GOP, partisan voters in the county, deterring the Democrat from entering his name. To preserve the Democratic Party on the ballot, an activist put their name as a placeholder for York, Dauphin, and Cumberland counties until an adequate candidate materialized.
Perry was once again strolling to the finish line.
But in came Shamaine Daniels, a Venezuelan-born immigrant rights attorney from Harrisburg who stepped up to the task. It is entirely possible that Daniels felt the heat, but she’s from Tucupita, where the climate is arid and hot.
Daniels is also familiar with losing. In 2011, she lost a bid for County Clerk in the Democratic primary. But she took stock of her loss and found that she ranked in the 75th percentile of Harrisburg voters.
So she ran for council and won, becoming the first Latina ever to do so.
Back in July of 2022, Daniels told AL DÍA that it was all about the moderate vote. Give them a reason to come out against Perry.
“We've created an economic and political climate that has made just daily living difficult for so many people, so for them to take a few minutes out of their day… we need to give them a reason to do it,” Daniels said in her July interview.
The problem was notoriety, no one knew who Daniels was. Everyone knows who Perry is.
That didn’t deter Daniels from pursuing an honest race and put Perry to the test, all odds against her. With no name recognition or establishment backing, Daniels began a grassroots campaign.
In August, the floor shifted. A poll run by Public Policy Polling of likely voters found that Daniels led the race by a 44-41 margin, and as they learned more about the candidates, “nearly half say they would support Daniels over Perry (49-45),” the poll learned.
Perry’s Achilles heel? His proximity to Donald Trump, a relationship fraught with undermining the electoral process. Forty-seven percent of surveyed voters expressed discomfort with Perry’s role in the 2020 elections and said they would not vote for him.
For Latino voters, any involvement with the attempt to overturn the election is a dealbreaker, according to data by UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota.
“I think one of the benefits of Dauphin County, York, is that we’re all small municipalities. Harrisburg is the largest. They’re all like small towns. We know everything that’s going on,” Daniels said, of whether she thought Perry’s involvement with Trump would hurt his chances with the Latino vote.
“[Latinos] are not as connected to the identity of Democrats and Republicans as Americans who have been here for generations are. Our great-great-great grandparents didn’t fight in the civil war (...) we’re more pragmatic. Is this candidate supporting the things we believe in?” she continued.
And while Daniels rides the anti-Trump wave, she has significant hurdles of her own. The same Public Policy Polling found that 63% of those surveyed were unsure of whether they had a favorable opinion of Daniels.
“We ask all of our volunteers to make sure they’re saying my name multiple times at the door,” Daniels said, chuckling.
“We’re doing our best to get our name out as much as possible,” she added.
And Daniels also faces another obstacle, Perry’s buying power. On the trail, Perry has outspent Daniels significantly, amounting to $2,729,698, as opposed to Daniels’s $358,276, according to campaign finance data.
Daniels has short of $80,000 left on hand, while Perry can still shell out almost $800,000 ahead of the midterms.
Even so, Daniels keeps her head up and said the ad blitz might work in her favor.
To date, Perry’s commercials don’t mention Daniels, a strategy, she says, is smart. She’s likened to negative Biden/Pelosi coverage without ever actually saying her name.
“It’s a smart thing to do if you’re him,” she said.
But Daniels also recalls Sen. Jim Jordan’s negative ad blitz, which does mention her name, a small detail she appreciated.
“I don’t think he realized that my weakness is name recognition. I actually thought those ads were helpful because they’re getting my name out.”
“I think Jim Jordan might inadvertently be helping me.”
With the wind at her back, Daniels collected a few endorsements on the road to the general election and hopes for the grassroots movement, compounded with question marks surrounding Perry’s involvement in the events of Jan. 6, will take her to the finish line.