Former Lehigh County Democratic Party chairman Rick Daugherty officially launched his congressional campaign Monday at an Allentown union hall.
It is the second time Daugherty is seeking the seat now held by Republican Charlie Dent. The 15th District includes all of Lehigh and parts of Northampton, Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties.
In 2014, Dent ran unopposed. In 2012, Dent won 56.8 percent of the vote to Daugherty’s 43.2 percent.
Daugherty, 55, of Lowhill Township, who is executive director of the Lehigh County Senior Center, said his campaign will focus on fair trade.
“Since the United States granted China most favored nation status as a trading partner in 2001, we have lost millions of jobs and have been flooded by products made In China.” Daugherty said. “This policy has been an economic disaster for many working families. It has to stop now.”
The American worker is also at a disadvantage to workers in countries such as Mexico, who work for “pennies” and have few rights, he said.
“We need federal trade policy that sets tariffs that help us manufacture here, not send jobs overseas,” Daugherty said. “Jobs coming back to America is my top priority in Congress.”
Dent was first elected in 2004 and has easily defeated a series of Democratic challengers including former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Allentown nonprofit leader Siobhan Bennett and former Northampton County Councilman Charles Dertinger.
Daugherty said he also plans to fight to strengthen Social Security and Medicare by raising the wage cap on the tax that funds Social Security, and by adding a special cost-of-living adjustment that ensures seniors’ benefits keep pace with their expenses.
And he would like to make college more affordable by allowing college loan holders to deduct more of their loans from the taxes and refinance at lower interest rates.
Daugherty is unopposed in the Democratic primary for the seat.