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An initiative to provide nonpartisan, independent elections journalism for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District: A guide to the 2022 general election and candidates

90.5 WESA

What's at stake: Consisting of Beaver County and a broad swath of Pittsburgh's suburbs in Allegheny County, the 17th Congressional District is a potentially crucial battleground. It's an open seat because incumbent Democrat Conor Lamb sacrificed a re-election bid for a failed Senate run, after winning re-election by just a couple of percentage points two years ago. Democrat Chris Deluzio and Republican Jeremy Shaffer have platforms broadly consistent with their parties. So far, though, the political debate has been driven by outside political advertisers who depict Deluzio as a subversive college professor and Shaffer as an out-of-touch millionaire who earned a fortune in China.

Further reading:
"Shaffer gets police endorsement as crime debate surfaces in 17th Congressional District race" (Chris Potter, WESA)
"In key Pa. Congressional race, new Shaffer ad draws fire from Democrats on abortion" (Chris Potter, WESA)
"Chris Deluzio will face Jeremy Shaffer to replace Conor Lamb in the 17th Congressional District" (Chris Potter, WESA)

Chris Deluzio

Chris Deluzio
Courtesy Deluzio campaign
Chris Deluzio

Deluzio is a Democrat in the Conor Lamb mold: a veteran with a law degree and strongly pro-union convictions. The Aspinwall resident himself was active in a bid to unionize faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, where he works on cyber-security and election issues — a background he says could be crucial at a time when elections are under attack. His policy agenda is generally within the Democratic mainstream, with pledges to protect Social Security by lifting a cap on tax rates for the elderly and to increase health care access by lowering the age for Medicare eligibility. He handily defeated LGBTQ political activist Sean Meloy in the Democratic primary.

Party: Democratic
Policy Director, University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber) (2019 – present)
Education: U.S. Naval Academy (B.A.); Georgetown University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate surveys: WESA Candidate Survey; League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Broad range of unions; Planned Parenthood Action Fund; National Organization for Women; Moms Demand Action; Sierra Club; League of Conservation Voters; more here.
Total raised (2021-2022): $921,878.81
Total spent: (2021-2022): $573,789.31
Worth reading: "Democrats compete in overlooked — but potentially crucial — 17th Congressional District" (Chris Potter, WESA)

Jeremy Shaffer

Jeremy Shaffer
Friends of Jeremy Shaffer
Jeremy Shaffer

Shaffer first made a name for himself in a tight 2018 state Senate race, narrowly losing to Democrat Lindsey Wililams — who he attacked as a socialist — after ousting incumbent Randy Vulakovich in the Republican primary. But despite that rough-and-tumble campaign, the Pine Township resident says his experience in local government marks him as a pragmatist. And while he is running as a pro-business conservative, he touts an openness to a minimum-wage hike and to some infrastructure spending as a sign of his willingness to work across party lines. Shaffer won a three-way Republican primary to become the party’s nominee and has put $1 million of his own money into the campaign.

Party: Republican
Ross Township Commission member (2014 – 2020)
Tulane University (B.S.); University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (MBA); Carnegie Mellon University (Ph.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook |Twitter
Candidate surveys: WESA Candidate Survey; League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Business groups that include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses; Gun Owners of America; Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America; Sen. Pat Toomey; more here.
Total raised (contributions and loans, 2021-2022): $1,429,903.66
Total spent (2021-2022): $492,515.39
Worth reading: "Abortion debate animates race between GOP candidates in 17th Congressional District" (Chris Potter, WESA)

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.