Cartwright keeps US House seat Democratic in Pennsylvania

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File photo: Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., from Pennsylvania's 8th U.S. Congressional District, speaks during a news conference at the Capitol building, in Washington, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Five-term U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, won a reelection bid in Pennsylvania over conservative activist and former Trump administration appointee Jim Bognet, while election lawyer Chris Deluzio, also a Democrat, won an open U.S. House seat north of Pittsburgh.

The results in the Scranton-based district echoed those from two years ago, when Bognet lost by less than 4 percentage points to Cartwright.

Democrats holding that seat in a region where the GOP has been making gains in recent years resonates in Washington, as President Joe Biden spent his early childhood in Scranton.

Bognet framed Cartwright as one of Biden’s closest allies, while Cartwright drew from cross-party appeal that had previously helped keep him in office.

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The result is a boost to Democrats’ hopes to hold majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

In another closely watched congressional race in Pennsylvania, Deluzio beat Republican businessperson Jeremy Shaffer, a former Ross Township commissioner who had billed himself as a pragmatic problem solver.

Deluzio will represent a district that consists largely of the voters who elected Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb to Congress for the past couple terms. It became vacant for this year’s election when Lamb chose not to seek reelection in what was an ultimately failed attempt to get his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

Deluzio’s campaign biography noted his involvement in the effort to establish a faculty union at the University of Pittsburgh last year.

“The union way of life is a huge thing here in western Pennsylvania,” Deluzio campaign manager Matt Koos said. “And there’s no doubt that the Dobbs decision has put abortion access at the front of voters’ minds.”

Shaffer had said he would position himself in Congress as “a pragmatic, common sense problem solver” who wants term limits and nonpartisan redistricting policies.

Pennsylvania’s delegation has been redistricted twice in recent years — first because of a court challenge and again as a result of the 2020 census — and the state has lost one seat in Congress this year because of its anemic population growth.

In another Pittsburgh-area race, Democratic state Rep. Summer Lee defeated Republican Mike Doyle to take the congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle. The identical names were the source of some puzzlement during the campaign, and Lee’s Republican challenger used the hashtag #TheRightMike.

In a speech to supporters Tuesday night, Lee nodded to that.

“When we were up against a wall, every single time when it looked like it was getting bleak, friends came from all over,” she said. “When we got into the name confusion and people started wondering, ‘What’s going on?’ we had friends come up.”

She said her watch party was a “scaled down thing, because we’ve been through it.”

“We had to go through ugly to get here,” she said. “There is a reason why there had never been a Black woman, ever, serving (in Congress) in the history of Pennsylvania. So I can assure you they’re not going to let up on us. They’re not going to relent.”

As happened across the country, Pennsylvania’s competitive congressional races had Democrats emphasizing support for abortion rights and Republicans reminding voters how inflation and other economic problems are affecting their lives.

Democratic Rep. Susan Wild was making a quest for a third term in the state’s eastern Lehigh Valley, facing off against former Lehigh County Commissioner Lisa Scheller, head of a manufacturing business. Wild, a former Allentown city lawyer, edged Scheller by 3.7 percentage points two years ago. Redistricting added GOP-friendly Carbon County to the map.

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Wild’s campaign argued Scheller has cut her U.S. workforce and sent jobs overseas, while Scheller blamed Wild’s support for spending bills under Biden for voters’ economic problems.

Elsewhere in the state, two Republican incumbents faced no opposition this fall: Reps. Guy Reschenthaler south of Pittsburgh and John Joyce in a sprawling district that runs from Gettysburg to Johnstown.

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