Graduate student seeks Democratic nomination for Congressional election

Caroline Fassett, News Editor

Steven Belskie ’13, a graduate student at the University, is running as a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District. On his official campaign website, Belskie expresses his “dissatisfaction with the other candidates who have put their names forward for the Democratic nomination” and says that he is running “to offer the voters of this district a real alternative to incumbent Tom Marino.” Currently, there is no Democrat on the ballot to challenge Marino.

Belskie is concerned with Marino’s opposition to combating climate change, which the congressman demonstrated in his vote to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Marino has a poor track record on women’s reproductive health; on multiple occasions he has received a zero percent rating by Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

“I simply didn’t feel that I could stand by any longer when I looked around and couldn’t find a challenger that was willing to take on Marino and represent progressive values,” Belskie said.

Though Belskie said that he had never intended to run in a congressional election while still in school, he felt compelled by circumstance to do so. Recognizing the effort, time, and commitment that is demanded by campaigning, Belskie expressed how fortunate it is that the bulk of the general election campaign takes place in the summer, when school is not in session.

“Toward the beginning of next year, I would have to assess where I was at in the campaign to see what the best course of action would be. In any case, my full commitment will be [given] to this campaign if the voters choose me for the nomination,” Belskie said.

Belskie said that he is aware of two other candidates who are also trying to garner write-in votes, yet he is “underwhelmed” with their campaigns, specifying their online presence.

“In the modern era, social media is becoming a key way to reach voters, particularly in situations like this where time is of the essence. Add to that the fact that I couldn’t find real policy positions on many key issues, and I felt that someone willing to put in the legwork was needed. Someone who could organize, but also articulate a clear and progressive vision for the 10th District, for Pennsylvania, and for the country,” Belskie said.

If Belskie is elected, he would “hope to bring transparency and good governance back to Washington.” In particular, Belskie would support measures to decrease the influence of special interests in lobbying and campaign finance, encourage that decisive action be taken in terms of climate change, and work to strengthen national civil rights laws “to prevent the kind of discrimination that we are seeing being enacted at the state level in places like North Carolina and Mississippi.” Additionally, Belskie would address the “failed” war on drugs.

“So called ‘tough on crime’ policies have given us the largest prison population in the world. Disproportionately those affected have been people of color. The structural racism in our society is a major issue that we must work to dismantle in order to live up the ideals of freedom and democracy that we espouse as a nation,” Belskie said.

Emphasizing that he is currently running a write-in campaign, Belskie is asking that people write in “Steven Belskie” at the polls on April 26, the day of primary elections. Belskie needs at least 1,000 votes in order to challenge Marino at the November general elections.

“So called ‘qualified’ candidates who have been educated at the same schools, who have worked for the same companies, have been giving us the same dead end policies for far too long. We need a breath of fresh air, a different perspective willing to challenge the entrenched paradigms of Washington’s stagnant political process,” Belskie said.

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