ERIE, Pa. — A county that first appeared to be a large success for Republican candidates in contested races has thrown the commonwealth and country a curveball by going for former Vice President Joe Biden over incumbent President Donald Trump by a thin margin.
As mail-in and absentee ballots were tallied by election officials, unofficial and incomplete tallies showed Biden taking the lead over Trump by less than 1,000 votes in Erie County as of Thursday night.
“Credit goes to the voters. But also goes to the [Erie County] Democratic Party Chair Jim Wertz, for whom this is his first presidential election cycle as chair,” Erie Reader Editor Ben Speggen wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “More days, hours, minutes than I can count spent working on this after 2016’s election.”
Erie County changing its position has large implications for Pennsylvania, which has been in the limelight as the state that could win the race for Biden. On Friday morning, Biden took the lead across the commonwealth by just under 1,000 votes overall as of 10 a.m., Nov. 6, unofficial and incomplete tallies showed.
The presidential race isn’t the only one that has seen a shift in Erie County as the vote counting continues.
On Wednesday, it looked like Erie had gone red in all contested races, but by Friday it was a different story for one local rust-belt county race in particular.
Incumbent Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, was able to win another term in the 3rd legislative district by beating out by Republican write-in Greg Hayes when mail-in tallies set him ahead by 8,081 total votes, according to unofficial tallies.
It looks however that Erie was able to maintain incumbent Republicans in both the 16th U.S. Congressional District and the 49th state Senate District.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District defeated Democratic challenger Kristy Gnibus.
Kelly’s win is credited to a massive Election Day turnout. Gnibus led by votes cast via mail-in and absentee ballots, but ultimately, Kelly was able to retain his position in the 16th Congressional District for a fifth term.
In the race for the 49th state Senate District, Democrat Julie Slomski saw defeat in the face of Election Day votes as well. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin pulled through with a massive in-person push that allowed him to win another term by 22,623 Erie County votes, according to unofficial tallies.
Official election results for Erie County have thus far provided mail-in numbers for all 2020 election races.
In the days preceding the election, Erie County found itself (and its 202,689 registered voters) in the national spotlight as a potential battleground for the presidential election. Both party candidates took special interest in the rust belt city and visited the rural county personally during the final days of campaigning.
Ultimately, the NWPA general election saw a voter turnout of 66.81 percent for a total of 135,422 ballots cast either via in-person Election Day votes, mail-in and absentee ballots. As of 10 a.m. Nov. 6, no provisional vote totals had been reported in Erie County.