Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District is a gerrymandered monster stretching from industrial Reading to leafy Lower Merion, cobbled together following the 2000 census to create a slightly R-leaning district in Philadelphia's western suburbs. Ever since its creation, it has been a prime Democratic target. Dan Wofford tried to best Jim Gerlach in 2002, and I'm sure you remember Lois Murphy's nail-biter challenges against the incumbent Gerlach in 2004 and 2006. It has always been a tight district for Congressional races (but overall D +4), which is why Jim Gerlach had announced he was leaving it to run for Governor last year -- but finding minimal support there, Gerlach had no choice but to run for this office again, having made it clear to everyone that his heart isn't in this seat anymore.
Meet Manan Trivedi. Dr. Trivedi grew up in Berks County -- the more rural part of the distict -- where his Indian immigrant parents worked at the Red Cheek apple juice factory. He attended college and med school at Boston University, then joined the United States Navy, where served as the battalion surgeon for a Marine Corps infantry battalion from 2001-03, commanding a medical team that cared for over 1,200 of our troops and hundreds of Iraqi civilians as part of the first ground forces entering Iraq.
For his service, Lt. Commander Trivedi earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Commendation Medal, and his unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
After his service in Iraq, Manan earned a Masters in Public Policy, specializing in health policy, at UCLA. He drew on his experience with combat medicine to become one of the early researchers to investigate the unique mental health issues affecting our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Trivedi went on to serve as health policy advisor to the Navy Surgeon General and was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. He also served as a health policy advisor to the Obama for America campaign. Manan is now back home in Reading, where he's a board-certified internal medicine doctor at Reading Hospital.
This is a good man. A few months ago a mutual friend encouraged Manan and I to meet, and we sat down for breakfast across the street from my office. At this point -- and this is not to brag but for context -- I do meet with candidates fairly frequently, and they all seem to want to know my answers to two questions: (1) how can I raise money from the Netroots?, and (2) how can I raise money from your law firm?
Manan was different. We spent the whole time in full wonk mode, talking about things Congress should be doing as part of the next wave of health care reform to increase the number of primary care doctors in America and the quality of that care. I hope his genuineness and humility comes across in this early campaign video:
And make no mistake, he believes in the things we do -- on health care, education, on energy and issues of war and peace, and more as you'll see in his Orange to Blue questionnaire answers below the fold. Also, Manan's not shy. Last month, when 25 of 26 leading Democratic House challengers declined to answer whether they'd vote for the Senate HIR bill, Manan said yes:
Out of the more than two dozen Democratic challengers and open-seat House candidates, only 10 commented for this story. Eight outright declined to comment. Eight more didn't respond to several days' worth of requests via phone and e-mail.
The only candidate to say unequivocally that he would support the Senate bill, which could be voted on in the House next week, is a primary-care physician running to face Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.). Dr. Manan Trivedi said it's important to get the ball rolling on reconciliation. "The answer is yes," he said flatly. That was about as direct as the answers got...
It's worth intervening in this May 18 primary. There is another Democrat in this race -- Doug Pike, who was among those 20+ candidates who refused to take a stand. You may have met Doug at Netroots Nation last year, and he's not like evil or anything ... but he's not the right guy, either, for a variety of reasons.
Basically, Pike is someone who at the age of 59 had decided to use his accumulated wealth and move into the 6th District for Congress, where he's largely self-financing this campaign. (His father, Otis Pike, was a Congressman from New York.) Before that, his main job was as an editorial writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he wrote some weird things -- endorsing St. Rep. Stephen Freind, whom he acknowledged as "a zealous opponent of abortion" but stated that some issues were "more important" at the height of the Gov. Casey era.
[His weirdness on abortion dates back at least to 1988, where even an ostensibly pro-choice column of his insisted on the "gruesomeness" of the medical procedure which he called "this wholesale disposal of what abortion backers insist is less than a baby and what anti- abortionists know is more than a glob," asserting that the "annual toll still should turn the stomachs of people who have quietly gone along with Roe v. Wade," and extends to this campaign where he falsely claimed to be the only pro-choice candidate in the race.]
The other reason you might have heard of Pike is, ironically, the reason you haven't been hearing from Pike. His campaign manager was banned from this site and Swing State Project last September for sockpuppetry employed to bash Trivedi at the start of Trivedi's campaign. The campaign declined numerous opportunities over months to apologize. And then Pike magically appeared here on April 7, not to apologize but to ask for your money via an O2B endorsement (after Trivedi had already done so), then posted a half-assed apology 24 hours later in that thread. And we don't have much tolerance for craven behavior like that.
[Trivedi, meanwhile, has been here diarying, quietly.]
Think about it like this. With all apologies to my chosen profession, it's doctors we need more of in Congress, not lawyers. We certainly need more young veterans of this Iraq War to help bring it to a conclusion. And, honestly, we need more South Asians in Congress as well -- it's about time.
Those who meet Trivedi love him. That's why the Chester and Montgomery County Democrats -- the two counties in the party which have endorsed so far -- endorsed Manan Trivedi. Several incumbents who had backed Pike when he was the only declared candidate either declared neutral or flipped to Trivedi altogether, including liberal St. Sen. Daylin Leach and St. Rep. Josh Shapiro. And momentum is building. Here's some of what he said at that Chester County endorsement meeting:
(Another good campaign speech here.) Dr. Manan Trivedi has plenty of endorsements, from labor organizations, pro-gay groups like the Liberty City Democratic Club and from the grassroots -- but he doesn't have Doug Pike's million-dollar bank account. He needs each of us.
We only add candidates in contested primaries to Orange to Blue when there's an absolutely clear choice, and that's certainly the case here. Manan Trivedi is an excellent candidate in his own right, a smart young progressive who is running a campaign in touch with the grassroots of his district, and who would bring energy and honor to the fight against Jim Gerlach. The primary is May 18; he needs your help today.
1. Do you support:
a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200 § 223, as introduced in the House)?
Yes. As a primary care physician and a health policy researcher, improving healthcare has been one of my passions during my career. I strongly support a robust, Medicare-like public option because it is the only way we can bring down health care costs in the short-term, hold the insurance companies feet to the fire and truly provide individuals with a viable alternative to private insurance.
b) The Public Option Act (H.R. 4789), which would allow all citizens to buy into Medicare?
Yes. A Medicare buy-in is the simplest way we can have a public option. Medicare is well-established, well-like program that works and so allowing those under 65 to buy-in to Medicare is the most cost-effective way at providing an alternative to private insurance.
2. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560), including the provision known as "card check"?
Yes. I support the Employee Free Choice Act and the card-check provision.
3. Do you support a repeal of the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (10 U.S.C. § 654)?
Yes. As a combat veteran of the Iraq War I recognize that your sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether or not you are fit to serve. We are embroiled in two wars and we need good men and women who are willing to serve.
4. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:
a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship - one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement - for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;
b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and
c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act?
I support all the measures above in a comprehensive immigration reform bill. I am the son of immigrants and we are a nation that continues to prosper because of the contributions of immigrants. We need to pursue comprehensive immigration reform that assures that America continues to attract and retain the best and brightest from around the world.
5. Do you think Congress should act to suspend regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency?
No. Greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to our environment, our climate, and our health. We need strong regulation to assure that these emissions are monitored and controlled.
6. If elected to the House, do you pledge not to join the Blue Dog Coalition?
7. If elected to the Senate, do you pledge to restore majority rule to the Senate and work/vote to end the filibuster?
I’m not running for the Senate, but I do think we need to amend the filibuster rule. I support Tom Harkin’s idea of increasing the number required to filibuster after every vote so it becomes harder to block needed legislation.