Decision 2020

17th Pa. Congressional district race: What you need to know

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — One of the most highly-anticipated races this November is in our backyard. Incumbent Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) is facing off against Sean Parnell (R-Ohio Township) for the 17th Pa. Congressional district. As of Friday afternoon, the race had not officially been called.

On Wednesday night, Lamb declared victory, saying:

“We had a pretty good sense about what the mail-in vote was going to look like, in part, because our campaign, the grassroot groups, the labor groups you see here … they really focused on the mail-in ballot campaign. It was a huge part of our effort.”

Thursday morning, Parnell released the following statement:

"Over the past 24 hours, we have looked closely at the votes already counted, the votes yet to be counted, and widely reported irregularities in those votes. Whether those irregularities end up meaningful or not, it is abundantly clear that this election cannot be decided until every vote is counted and verified as legal.

"Last night, despite previously calling for every vote to be counted, Conor Lamb claimed victory practically the minute he took a slim lead in this race. Unless Lamb has a sixth sense that helps him precisely determine vote totals from outstanding precincts in this razor’s edge race, he should exercise the restraint that he was calling for while significantly behind.

"All eyes are on Pennsylvania, and our poll workers have volunteered their time working day and night to count votes. We should absolutely let them continue their work, count every legal vote, and let the process play on until its rightful conclusion.

“Sean, unlike his opponent, is the candidate of law and order. He is absolutely committed to a full and fair accounting of all legal ballots, will fight on behalf of the people to make that happen, and will accept the will of the voters at that time, no matter the outcome. That is what makes our democracy great.”

On Saturday morning, Lamb was officially declared the winner of the race.

The two candidates debated in WPXI’s studio on Sept. 26. You can watch both segments at the bottom of this article.

Channel 11 News again caught up with the candidates on Tuesday at various polling locations.

Lamb voted by mail and greeted supporters outside the Potomac Air Lodge polling location in Moon Township.

Lamb, a Mt. Lebanon native and former federal prosecutor and Marine Corps officer, won back in 2018.

Election Results Click Here image

He said he’s focusing on rebuilding the economy, helping to find a permanent solution to the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing more jobs to the area after so many have struggled and lost out this past year.

“All I want them to know is that I think what has defined this campaign is that our side believes we could be doing much better in battling this virus. It doesn’t have to be the way it is,” Lamb said.

Republican challenger Parnell voted in person in Ohio Township Tuesday morning. The Murrysville native and former platoon leader in Afghanistan has strong backing, with President Donald Trump endorsing him repeatedly and calling him the best candidate.

Parnell said he will continue to fight to reopen the state as the pandemic plays out, protect fracking jobs and allowing Americans to choose their health care plans.

“I’m a warrior for the energy industry. I don’t flip flop on the issue. I made that a pillar of my campaign narrative. I’ll defend the Second Amendment,” Parnell said.

What is the 17th Pa. Congressional District?

The United States is divided into 435 congressional districts, each with a population of about 710,000 individuals. Each district elects a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives for a two-year term.

Pennsylvania has 18 Congressional districts, with western Pa. making up about six of them: districts 13-18.

The 17th district encompasses the entirety of Beaver County, a small portion of southwestern Butler County, and all parts of Allegheny County not part of the 18th district.

Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is? CLICK HERE to find out.

How did the candidates get here?

Conor Lamb (D) - Incumbent

The current representative for Pa.'s 17th district won a different seat in a special election in 2018. Lamb defeated Republican candidate Rick Saccone on March 13, 2018 for the 18th Congressional district after the departure of incumbent Tim Murphy (R). However, he assumed office in the 17th district in 2019 because court-ordered redistricting changed the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts.

He is running now, technically, for re-election of the 17th district.

Lamb earned an undergraduate degree and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. His experience includes work as an assistant U.S. attorney and service in the U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserves.

Sean Parnell (R)

Parnell is challenging Lamb for the 17th district seat after getting through the primary election in June with over 60,000 votes.

Parnell is an Army combat veteran who served in Afghanistan and wrote a book about it. On his LinkedIn page, he describes himself as author of two books, co-founder of the American Warrior Initiative and associated with Fairway Independent Mortgage Co. He earned degrees from Duquesne University.

What are their top priorities/issues?

Lamb has listed several things as his “top priorities” heading into the election. At the top of the list includes fighting the heroin crisis, investing in jobs and infrastructure and affordable healthcare.

He voted along party lines in 2019 to impeach and remove President Donald Trump, while he was one of 15 Democrats who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi to become speaker for the 116th Congress.

For a complete look at what Lamb is campaigning for, visit his campaign page here.

According to his website, Parnell listed these as his key messages: “Keep Our Economy Booming, Support Our Energy Industry and Keep Our Military Strong & Protect Our Border.”

He has been a vocal supporter of Trump, and the president has reciprocated. Parnell appeared at Trump’s recent rally in Latrobe, and Parnell was a speaker at the virtual Republican National Convention last month.

Visit Parnell’s campaign page here for a complete view of his top issues.