Auditor General and Democratic Candidate for 10th Congressional District Eugene DePasquale speaks to Midtown Cinema staff in Harrisburg on September 19, 2020. (Capital Star photo by Stephen Caruso)
For Anya Lumpkin-Queen, COVID-19 isn't the only disease that is spreading like wildfire in the United States.
Lumpkin-Queen, co-owner of Queen & # 39; s BBQ in Harrisburg, and her husband Titus Queen also see a virus of resentment and anger spreading among their fellow citizens. It's most obvious every time someone yells over a mask requirement in a grocery store.
"If I tell you," Hey, I don't want you to come in because I don't want to make anyone sick, "why are you crazy?" Lumpkin Queen said on Saturday.
And the source of this other pandemic, she said, is clear: Washington D.C. and its dysfunctional politics.
The story of Lumpkin-Queen was one of many 10th Congress Democratic candidates, Eugene DePasquale, masked and heard by small business owners hawking BBQ, habañero beer, and edible cookie dough during a morning foray into Midtown Harrisburg.
The half-dozen entrepreneurs he spoke to, from an art house cinema manager to a candy stand, all told similar stories.
They survived the coronavirus, adopt on the fly, are hopeful for the future – and mostly expect a representative to listen to them in these difficult times. DePasquale, they said, fits the bill.
While stopping at Broad Street Market in Harrisburg, DePasquale met Jessica Kost, a 33-year-old confectionery maker who serves chocolate-covered pretzels, organic sodas, and candy cups with sugary fillings.
She told DePasquale about the fighting during the virus. It closed for four months at the beginning of the pandemic and has since grown used to selling online and mailing its goodies to help stay afloat.
The conversation was cordial. But when DePasquale bought a bar of chocolate, Kost told him she had a bone to pick: – His garden signs, she said, are made of plastic. She didn't like its impact on the environment.
"We have to work on it next time," she chided gently through a sneeze guard adorned with a Black Lives Matter sticker.
DePasquale, Kost told the Capital star, has her voice, citing his positions on the environment and policing.
On the DePasquale campaign website, however, the wish is expressed to extend federal aid to small businesses. And when he spoke to small business owners on Saturday, he often raised concerns that the federal paycheck protection loans went to big corporations rather than mom and pop stores.
But DePasquale didn't question Governor Tom Wolf's management at the start of COVID-19.
"In the beginning he did the best he could," said DePasquale.
DePasquale is ending his second and final term as Auditor General and is currently reviewing a Wolf program that has allowed some companies not to reopen early.
As the Capital Star reported earlier this month, this test has taken hold controversy due to Wolf's fundraiser for DePasquale during the review.
The 10th district includes all of Dauphin County and Harrisburg's West Shore suburbs to Carlisle and extends south to York.
The US Republican Representative Scott Perry currently holds the seat and has been in office since 2014. The archconservative survived a close re-election in 2018 by new Supreme Court standards.
Democrats, who already have a majority in the US House of Representatives, are feeling opportunities in the small towns and suburbs of the district, while Republicans need to show that they still have strength in the important South-Central region.
President Donald Trump won here in 2016 by almost 9 percentage points. However, this year's poll in the district shows that Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden beat Trump.
The same Survey have shown a close race between Perry and DePasquale. The only independent survey carried out by the York ShippingPerry found 3 percentage points higher, with many still undecided.
Back in the market, DePasquale also had a chat with Andrea Grove, owner of Elementary Coffee. Grove said that paying their workers a living wage is a top priority. However, she also realized that selling $ 2 cups of coffee doesn't provide the margins for health care for her employees.
"People don't offer health care because they don't want to because they can't," Grove said.
DePasquale, who acts as the moderator, does not endorse Medicare for All. But he is helping private companies interested in Medicare and is expanding Medicaid to allow more people to re-enroll in the program.
The York County resident does not want to sell a "you will vote for me, all your problems will go away" platform.
"You fix what you can and some of this stuff will be a struggle," he said.
The last stop from DePasquale was Queen & # 39; s BBQ near the State Capitol complex. Lumpkin-Queen and her husband opened in January and often sold early to hungry government employees. But closed state offices cut off that market.
Instead, they have relied on the help of their community and posted on Facebook when they are having a slow day. And soon after, the store started receiving calls for orders.
They also try to give back to the community. Lumpkin-Queen said she was offering as many free samples as possible despite the pandemic putting an end to this practice. The blackboard with their menu also explains that everyone eats at Queen, even if they may be out of cash at the time.
The grill supplier saw DePasquale's ads and he has her vote. He seems approachable and someone who can bring the values on which she and her husband built their store to Congress.
"Hopefully you go to DC and change some things," she says.