by Evie Fordham
Republican state Rep. Fred Keller won Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District special election Tuesday night, ensuring the district would stay red after Republican Rep. Tom Marino stepped down in January.
Keller took 70.3% of the vote with 64% of precincts reporting as of press time, while his Democratic opponent Marc Friedenberg took 29.9%, according to The New York Times. President Donald Trump held a rally for Keller in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, Monday to energize voters the night before the general election.
“Fred Keller of the Great State of Pennsylvania has been an outstanding State Representative. Now he is running as the Republican Nominee for Congress, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will do a fantastic job — I look forward to seeing everyone tonight!” Trump wrote on Twitter hours before the rally.
Fred Keller of the Great State of Pennsylvania has been an outstanding State Representative. Now he is running as the Republican Nominee for Congress, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will do a fantastic job – I look forward to seeing everyone tonight! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2019
Keller has represented voters from central Pennsylvania in the state House of Representatives since 2010, according to Ballotpedia. He will be one of only two members of Congress who never attended college, FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich wrote on Twitter.
Keller spoke about his experience with the American dream during an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation prior to his nomination.
“Why I’m running, to me, it’s about the sacrifice made by our veterans and the founders of our great nation,” Keller said in a phone interview. “As a kid, I grew up very poor. I would have been what people now characterize as at-risk or disadvantaged. … Had I lived in any other country on the face of this earth, I’d still be that poor, and so would my children.”
“I want to make sure those opportunities exist for generations to come,” he continued.
Keller attributed Pennsylvania’s falling unemployment rate to Trump’s policies and said his campaign was pro-family and pro-veteran, reported WSKG.
The district is heavily Republican and pro-Trump, and political commentators downplayed the chance that Friedenberg could flip it like Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb did during a 2018 special election.
The Pennsylvania special election is one of several that played out long past the November 2018 midterms. North Carolina’s 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts will hold special elections Sept. 10.
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Evie Fordham is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Evie on Twitter.