Republican Fred Keller wins special election to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District

12th Congressional District candidates Republican Fred Keller and Democrat Marc Friedenberg. (Courtesy campaign Facebook pages)
12th Congressional District candidates Republican Fred Keller and Democrat Marc Friedenberg. (Courtesy campaign Facebook pages)

Republican state Rep. Fred Keller easily won a special election Tuesday to represent the commonwealth’s 12th Congressional District, a geographically vast and conservative section of north and central Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press called the race for Keller at 9:55 p.m. With 36 percent of precincts reporting, Keller led Democrat Marc Friedenberg, a Penn State professor, 73-27, according to unofficial election results.

“I’m honored to have the support of the hardworking people of the 12th Congressional District and for their trust in electing me to represent them in Congress,” Keller said a statement. “Tonight is the beginning of us working together to address the issues that the people have told us will positively impact every family across central and northeast Pennsylvania.”

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Marino announced he would resign just two weeks after taking office in January, later citing a health issue. Marino beat Friedenberg in November 2018 by 32 percentage points.

Keller has represented parts of Snyder and Union counties in the General Assembly since 2011. President Donald Trump campaigned for the lawmaker in Lycoming County on Monday.

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As Capital-Star reporter Stephen Caruso previously noted:

[Keller] regularly voted with the Republican majority on liquor privatization, budgets, and abortion restrictions.

But he also backed Act 79, which makes it easier to take guns away from people convicted or accused of domestic abuse, in a vote that split the Republican caucus.

That vote cost him the backing of more rigid state gun groups, but he still has the support of the National Rifle Association.

Keller’s seat will be filled during a special election. State House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, will set a date no more than 10 days after the seat is vacated.

“Fred Keller ran a great campaign and talked about his support for ideas that all Americans can get behind: a better economy, more jobs, and getting government out of the way,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio said in a statement

“As he now heads to Congress, we look forward to supporting Fred and the entire Pennsylvania Republican Congressional delegation as they work to implement the pro-growth policies that have kept this economy booming, support President Trump, and represent Pennsylvania’s interests in Washington.”

Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.

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