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Chris Deluzio will face Jeremy Shaffer to replace Conor Lamb in the 17th Congressional District

Democrat Chris Deluzio, left, and Republican Jeremy Shaffer, right.
Courtesy of the campaigns
Democrat Chris Deluzio, left, and Republican Jeremy Shaffer, right.

Democrats and Republicans have picked Chris Deluzio and Jeremy Shaffer as their nominees to replace Conor Lamb in the 17th Congressional District.

The 17th includes Beaver County and a swath of the Allegheny County suburbs. Political prognosticators consider it to be a "toss-up" this fall, and the outcome of this race could help determine how high an expected Republican tide is going to rise this election year.

Deluzio, a U.S. Navy veteran who heads a cyber policy center at the University of Pittsburgh, jumped out to an early lead over Sean Meloy in mail-in balloting, and he did not lose it.

There were few policy differences between them, but Deluzio had considerable union support and helped to unionize faculty at Pitt.

Deluzio also had the backing of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and local officials. He's previously worked on voter security and integrity issues at the Brennan Center for Justice — experience he said would be relevant amid a ferocious debate about voting rights in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

“From day one, this campaign has been about fighting for our common good and a government that serves all of us: rebuilding our manufacturing and infrastructure, union jobs, health care that isn’t a rip off, and more,” Deluzio told supporters who gathered Tuesday night at American Legion Post #145 in Crafton.

“What I see from the radical right is a party willing to attack our democracy when they lose an election, a party eager to overturn Roe v. Wade, and a party ready to ship your jobs overseas to make a penny more in profit for their corporate bosses," he added.

In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee congratulated Deluzio, saying his record of domestic and military service "reflect the values of western Pennsylvania — from fighting for good-paying union jobs to protecting a woman's right to choose, Chris is the right choice this November.”

Meloy is a former staffer for Congressman Mike Doyle, who backed his campaign. He has been active in LGBT political organizing, both with the Democratic committee and with outside advocacy groups. Meloy touted the fact that he himself would have been the first openly gay Congressman from Pennsylvania.

Start your morning with today's news on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

Deluzio will apparently face Shaffer in November. Shaffer, of Pine Township, is a former municipal official and a staunch conservative who narrowly lost a state Senate race in 2018 —a wave election year for Democrats.

This year, with momentum seemingly on the GOP side, he's attracted support from much of the party's leadership, including former Congressman Keith Rothfus, who previously represented much of the area.

In a statement, Shaffer's campaign said his win provided that "Pennsylvanians are ready for a fighter and problem-solver in Washington who will stand up to the career politicians, fix our economy and take our country back."

His primary win drew congratulations from the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, which predicted that he would be part of a "new Republican majority" elected to Congress this fall.

“Jeremy Shaffer will stand up to Democrats’ devastating policies that have made life less affordable and our neighborhoods less safe," CLF President Dan Conston said in a statement.

Shaffer bested a three-person field that included Kathy Coder, a small business owner and the lone Beaver County candidate in the race, and Jason Killmeyer, a writer with a background as a national-security consultant.

Coder campaigned on a pledge to bring "Beaver County values" to Washington, and on a more collaborative approach honed by her work with a regional consortium of local officials. Killmeyer challenged Shaffer from the right on issues that included trade and abortion. But neither was able to overcome Shaffer's financial resources or party support.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.