17th Pa. Congressional district race gaining national attention

PITTSBURGH — While the country is divided over President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, a similar divide is growing in the 17th Congressional District.

Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) is in a closely contested race against Republican challenger Sean Parnell.

The race is gaining national attention, pitting two veterans and rising stars in their parties in a tight race.

Both candidates received speaking slots at their respective party’s political conventions over the summer.

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Lamb was one of 17 keynote speakers to the Democratic National Convention.

One week later, Parnell had a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.

That attention has also led to plenty of money being poured into the race.

The most recent fundraising numbers show Lamb raising a $2.1 million compared to $1.2 million for Parnell.

But the challenger had an impressive financial showing in the second quarter of 2020, raising $717,364 compared to Lamb’s $444,184.

“It’s a national race. The reflection of America is in these two guys and in this district,” said Bill Green, WPXI political analyst.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Reports rates the race as leaning Democratic.

With so much attention being paid to Western Pennsylvania by the Trump and Biden campaigns, what happens at the top of the ticket could trickle down to the congressional race.

“Really, the question is, who shows up? Both of them are trying to turn out their bases,” said Kris Kanthak, political science professor at University of Pittsburgh.

The candidates have only been head-to-head once, during the WPXI Congressional Debate in September.

That’s where voters at times saw heated exchanges as each man tried to gain an edge.

With less than a month before Election Day, and mail-in ballots already being turned in, Lamb and Parnell have a limited amount of time to make their final pitch to voters in the 17th Congressional District.