Pennsylvania Election Results for the 17th U.S. House District: Deluzio vs. Shaffer

The race for the Congressional seat vacated by Conor Lamb was perhaps the closest thing to normal that 2022 had to offer in Pennsylvania politics. Unlike many other contests this year, it featured real debate and ads that, while pervasive and hard-hitting, at least relied on familiar attacks.

And yet, with just five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives separating Republicans from the overthrowing control of the lower branch of Congress, the stakes in this race are arguably as high as any in the country.

Two white-collar professionals, Democrat Chris Deluzio and Republican Jeremy Shaffer, faced off in 17th, a swing neighborhood that connects Beaver County to a suburban strip of Allegheny County. The geography encompasses college suburbs with working-class industrial and post-industrial communities. In 2020, the relatively moderate Lamb won re-election in a somewhat different district configuration by just under 3 percentage points.

Deluzio is a U.S. Navy veteran and attorney who worked as policy director for a center at the University of Pittsburgh focused on computer law and security. Prior to that, he worked in election security for the Brennan Center. He beat LGBT activist Sean Meloy to become the Democratic nominee last spring.

Shaffer is a former Ross Township Commissioner, as well as an electrical and computer engineer whose company provides software to track the condition of infrastructure. He fended off two Republican challengers to become his party’s nominee in the race.

Deluzio pointed to stark differences between himself and Shaffer on issues such as gun control — he favors a ban on high-capacity magazines — and abortion. (Deluzio supports abortion rights; Shaffer opposes it but says the decision should be made at the state level — although he has expressed openness to a constitutional amendment to restrict the procedure.) And he called for more domestic manufacturing as a way to fight inflation and revive the economy.

Shaffer, meanwhile, lumped Deluzio together with a Democratic party he is responsible for causing inflation and losing control of the border with Mexico. At the same time, he tried to distance himself from the extremes of his own party. He said he would have voted to accept Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, for example. He also said he would have supported Biden’s infrastructure spending, although during a 2018 state Senate bid he knocked down a Republican in a state Senate primary by blaming him. to support a bipartisan infrastructure agreement at the state level.

Deluzio secured the support of a wide range of union leaders and, as was the case nationally, was able to outclass his Republican rival. But Shaffer consolidated much of his own party’s support and was able to fill the gap by loaning his own candidacy $1 million. It also received the lion’s share of external funding.

Those dollars paid for attacks that attacked Deluzio as a socialist professor too close to progressives like congressional candidate Summer Lee (Deluzio had contributed a decidedly modest sum of just over $100 to Lee and a political committee related). Democrats countered that Shaffer made much of his money working for a company that held contracts in China and that he was more extreme than he wanted voters to think. (Shaffer has in the past donated to anti-gun control extremists at Firearm Owners Against Crime, as well as other causes.)

There has been a dearth of external polls in the race, which political pundits have called a toss up from the get-go. The final outcome won’t be resolved until Tuesday night – at the earliest.

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