Races to Watch: Pennsylvania Could be Bellwether for HR Issues

November 02, 2018

A number of Pennsylvania election returns Tuesday night, including one key race pitting a moderate Republican against an outspoken corporate critic, may provide quick insight on whether Democrats take the House.

Control of the House will likely come down to a handful of suburban areas where the president is thought to be a hindrance to Republican candidates.

Exhibit A: Three districts in Pennsylvania.  

  • Steel-cage death match:  This has thrown two incumbents, Republican Keith Rothfus and Democrat Conor Lamb, into a head-to-head matchup in the new 17th district in the western part of the state.  Both candidates are courting the moderate voters but have drawn a bright line over minimum wage, with Rothfus opposing a “one size fits all” solution and Lamb supporting incrementally raising the rate to $15 per hour.

  • A "Wild" valley showdown:  Democrat Susan Wild and Republican Marty Nothstein are vying for an open congressional seat in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, which was held for many years by Republican moderate Charlie Dent.  Wild has gained some traction by promising to be a check on President Trump while also pledging to “defend, strengthen, and support unions'” in their work to prevent states from enacting right-to-work laws.

  • The one to watch:  In the meantime, if you keep an eye on just one race—make it this one:  Fitzpatrick vs Wallace in the PA first.  Freshman Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent and self-proclaimed moderate, is seeking union support and has the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO.  His race against Scott Wallace may demonstrate whether a Republican centrist can survive.  Wallace was co-chairman of the Wallace Global Fund—a grant-making organization that according to its website opposes the “rise of a corporatist state that concentrates power in the hands of the few and wields unchecked authority at the expense of the common good.”

Early to bed:  If you can’t stay up for the West Coast results Tuesday night, the Pennsylvania polls close at 8:00 p.m. EDT and may show you all you need to know.