Pennsylvania 17th District election preview: Conor Lamb vs. Sean Parnell

  • Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb will face Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.
  • The district is located in western Pennsylvania in the Pittsburgh suburbs and exurbs, and is home to all of Beaver County.
  • Parnell is a decorated veteran and Army Ranger and has been awared with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb will square off in November against Republican challenger Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.

The candidates

Lamb is a veteran in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and an attorney. He later became a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Pittsburgh office in Pennsylvania’s Western District.

In 2017, Lamb was chosen as the Democratic nominee for a special election in the state’s 18th Congressional District after Republican Rep. Tim Murphy resigned following an alleged extramarital affair. Lamb narrowly defeated Republican Rick Saccone by fewer than 500 votes to represent Pennsylvania’s former 18th District.

In 2018, after the state’s congressional map was redrawn pursuant to a court order, Lamb chose to run in the 17th Congressional District, where he defeated Keith Rothfus. In Congress, Lamb serves as the Vice-Chair of the House Committees on Veterans Affairs and is on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s focused his time in Congress both on veterans’ issues and economic issues facing Western Pennsylvania, including bolstering the steel industry. 

Parnell is a veteran of the U.S. Army where he was an Army Ranger. In 2006, Parnell was wounded in a firefight and was forced to medically retire from the military, and was awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

He is the cofounder of the American Warrior Initiative, a veterans advocacy organization. Parnell’s campaign platform is centered around strengthening border security and picking pro-life judges for the U.S. court systems. Parnell was endorsed by President Donald Trump and recently spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

The district

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District is located in western Pennsylvania along a small part of the state’s southwestern border outside of the city of Pittsburgh. It is home to all of Beaver County, much of Allegheny County, and a small portion of the southwestern tip of Butler County.

The state’s congressional map was redrawn in 2018 after by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the state’s previous congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. 

Trump would have carried the district under its current boundaries by two points, 49% to 47%, over Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the Daily Kos.

The money race

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lamb has raised $2.2 million for his campaign, just under $1 million more than Parnell with $1.2 million. Lamb also holds a fairly sizable cash on hand advantage of his opponent. He currently has $1.3 million left to spend as the November election approaches, or over $400,000 more than Parnell’s remaining $870,000.

What experts say

The race between Lamb and Parnell is rated as “leans Democratic” by the Cook Political Report and “likely Democratic” by Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

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