The Lead

Pa. Rep. Otten draws primary challenger

By: - January 3, 2024 3:17 pm

Erica Deuso (Photo via Erica Deuso campaign)

Erica Deuso has announced a primary challenge to state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D-Chester), which would make her Pennsylvania’s first openly transgender state legislator if elected.

Deuso said in a press release that state government should be more efficient, and that she supports raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave, fair school funding, and signed the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge, signaling support that she will not accept campaign contributions from oil and gas companies. 

Otten, who is in her third term in the state House, was first elected to the seat in the 155th House District in 2018. In 2020, Otten fended off a primary challenge from Democrat Rose Danese, winning the primary by just under 50 points, and defeated Republican Michael Taylor by 12 points in the general election. She won reelection in 2022, beating Republican Kyle Scribner by 13 points.

Deuso acknowledged in a campaign document that she and Otten are closely aligned on most policies. 

One potential area of disagreement between the two Democrats, however, could be on hydrogen hubs. President Joe Biden announced last year that two of the seven regional hubs will be partly located in Pennsylvania. 

“I fully support the proposed Hydrogen Hubs here in the Delaware Valley and around the country for their promising leap away from fossil fuels, job creation, and repurposing of existing infrastructure,” Deuso said in a statement. “It’s also essential to ensure clean hydrogen infrastructure without imposing new rules on producers.”

Otten, whose district would be near the proposed MACH2 hub, didn’t fully endorse the project. 

“Hydrogen technology is an important part of a clean-energy transition, with the potential to fuel hard-to-decarbonize sectors like steel and cement manufacturing, chemical production, long-haul transportation, and aviation,” Otten wrote in October. “But without adequate regulation, oversight, and scrutiny, this proposal has the potential to be the latest exercise in greenwashing.”

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John Cole
John Cole

John Cole is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He's worked for various outlets such as The Northeast Times, PoliticsPA, and PCN. In these previous roles, he covered a wide range of topics from local civic association meetings to races across the commonwealth. He earned a degree in journalism from Temple University.