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PA State Sen. Daylin Leach may run for Pat Meehan's congressional seat

Leach, an outspoken liberal who once called President Trump a “fascist, loofa-faced, s-gibbon,” is considering a challenge next year.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, an outspoken liberal who once called President Trump a "fascist, loofah-faced, s-gibbon" is considering challenging Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan next year, potentially setting up a clash of two well-known political figures as Democrats try to capitalize on the left's anti-Trump fervor.

Leach said he had begun talking to voters and key political figures in both Pennsylvania and Washington, and has commissioned a poll to feel out his chances in the Seventh Congressional District, centered on Delaware County.

While the moderate district leans slightly Republican, Trump lost it last year, giving Democrats hope that they can use the roiling energy on the left against Meehan.

Leach said constituents had encouraged him to run as a check on the president.

"I was reluctant to take on that large of a project, frankly, but as things have unfolded I have become increasingly concerned that we are facing way beyond what is the normal angst that one feels when there's a president of the other party," Leach said. "We are actually facing an existential threat to many of the basic rights we enjoy in this country and to our way of life in a lot of ways."

Leach, 55, said he wanted to be "thoughtful" about his decision and hoped to decide on a run by the first week of June.

"I still go back and forth, sort of on a daily basis," he said.

Leach would join a crowded field. Five Democrats have already filed papers to run against the four-term Republican congressman, and even more have said they are considering jumping in, said David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democrats.

One, Philadelphia ward leader Dan Muroff, touted an endorsement last week by former Gov. Ed Rendell.

Some Democrats immediately raised concerns about Leach's potential candidacy. Several said they think the liberal senator — who drew international attention when he tweeted the profane insult at Trump in February — could win a primary, but struggle with a more moderate electorate in the general election. Republicans hold a voter registration advantage in the district, 49 percent to 36 percent, so any Democrat would likely need crossover votes.

Leach argued that voters will be more concerned with resisting Trump than typical conservative vs. liberal ideology.

"This is going to be an election about authenticity and about what kind of America you want to see — not in terms of what the tax rate should be, but in terms of, 'Do we have freedom of the press? Do we treat all religions the same? Do we adhere to the rule of law?' " he said.

Leach ran for Congress in the 13th Congressional District, based in Montgomery County, in 2014. He finished third in a four-way primary.

Democratic State Chairman Marcel Groen said he had spoken with Leach, but said it is still early in the search for candidates. "Personally, I think highly of Sen. Leach. I think he would make a very good candidate," he said.

Groen said he hoped to avoid a costly primary and unite the party early.

Leach lives in the Montgomery County portion of the Seventh District, but the bulk of his district is in Delaware County. He said he is known in the county, since his Senate district includes two large Delaware County townships, Radnor and Haverford.

Meehan's office declined to comment on Leach's plans. The incumbent had more than $2 million in his campaign fund at the end of March.