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Deluzio Announces Bid For Western PA Congressional Seat

Chris Deluzio.jpeg
Couresty the Deluzio campaign
Attorney and Iraq veteran Chris Deluzio, a Democrat, announces his campaign for Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2021.

District lines haven’t been drawn yet, but at least one candidate has announced his plans to run for an open Pennsylvania Congressional seat. Democrat Chris Deluzio, a voting rights lawyer and veteran, launched his campaign on Monday to run in what’s currently U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb’s district.

“My time in uniform shaped me pretty profoundly,” he said. “I learned and still believe quite strongly in the power of solidarity. We don’t leave people behind. It doesn’t matter your class, your race, who you love, what you look like or where you’re from. I look around though, and I see people and leaders — especially on the right — who don't see the world that way. They’re more interested in serving the most powerful corporations and the billionaires who bankroll them.”

Deluzio, 37, works on voting rights and election law as policy director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security. He also teaches as an adjunct professor at Pitt’s law school. He grew up in Thornburg and graduated from Bishop Canevin High School before graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. In 2009, he began a nine-month tour in Iraq with a civil affairs unit, where he assisted the U.S. Department of State and special forces. He later earned a law degree from Georgetown University.

“Our democracy is under attack,” Deluzio said. “We see it here in Pennsylvania and across the country. I’ve dedicated much of my life to protecting democracy, and whether it was my time in uniform or my work in the last several years to protect our right to vote and secure our elections, I won’t sit idly by.”

Deluzio was quick to denounce the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, saying “we’ve clearly seen what the far right is willing to do to take power. And I will fight them every single step of the way.” He also called for new federal voting rights legislation and criticized efforts by Republican state legislatures to change voting laws.

“We have to be on the offense to make sure we’re doing things to protect the right to vote,” he said.

If elected, he says he also would work to protect Social Security and veterans benefits, support unions and make sure that “every American has good health care coverage.”

But it’s unclear what the 17th Congressional district, which Deluzio hopes to represent, will even look like after lawmakers redraw the lines to account for population changes reported in the 2020 census. Deluzio, who lives in Shadyside, says he plans to move into the district should he need to do so.

“Western Pennsylvanians …. ought to have competitive maps,” he said. “They ought to have politicians who aren't safe in their districts and have to fight and earn their vote. Our population growth looks strong, better than a lot of other places in the country. And I see a strong case not only for keeping this district, but making sure we’ve got a competitive district here in western Pennsylvania and picking up a good chunk of Allegheny County.”

The Constitution does not require that Congressional candidates live in the district they hope to represent, only that they live in the same state.

The moderate district currently includes Allegheny County suburbs and Beaver County. Last year, Lamb held on to his seat when he beat Republican Sean Parnell by slightly less than 10,000 votes. Both Lamb and Parnell are running for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat, who is retiring.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.
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