Tags: pennsylvania | tim o’neal | clark mitchell | mitt romney

Republican Wins Big Upset in Blue-Collar Pa.

Image: Republican Wins Big Upset in Blue-Collar Pa.
Harrisburg Capitol (AP/Matt Rourke)

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Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:55 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A special election in Pennsylvania turned out to be a huge victory for Republicans that few  expected — Tim O’Neal prevailed over Democrat Clark Mitchell to fill a vacancy in the state House in a district considered safely Democratic. And by a whopping 11 percentage points — 55 to 44 percent.

The 48th District (Washington-Canonsburg Counties) has not been represented by a Republican in Harrisburg since 1988. Republicans, in fact, did not even run a candidate in 2016 against Democratic State Rep. Brandon Neuman (whose resignation to become a judge of the Court of Common Pleas led to the special election).

Although Donald Trump and Mitt Romney carried the district in 2016 and 2012 respectively, its heavily blue-collar electorate reliably gave its votes to Democratic candidates at lower levels—Sen. Bob Casey in 2012, Gov. Tom Wolf in 2014, and Conor Lamb in the much-watched special election for the U.S. House in March.

So how did O’Neal, a U.S. Army officer and combat veteran who won the Bronze Star in Afghanistan, pull off what could easily be called the biggest upset of the year?

“Obviously, knocking on 8,200 doors since March was helpful,” O’Neal told Newsmax hours after being declared the winner. “And I think voters liked my background more than that of my opponent. [Democrat Clark Mitchell Jr., an attorney who worked in his father’s law firm].”

But O’Neal quickly added that the changing nature of the economy in Western Pennsylvania worked to his advantage.

“Look, I’m pro-job growth, pro-economic development,” he told me. “Gov. Wolf and the Democrats have been attacking the shale industry, which is becoming an increasingly important form of energy. He tried to push a tax on it. And when the industry is attacked like this by state government, it leaves people uncertain and pushes off investment.”

The newest lawmaker in Pennsylvania wants “to take away the uncertainty, lay out the possibilities for the future, and develop a system to help small business programs.”

O’Neal’s vision of economic opportunity as a winning issue in blue-collar, historically Democratic areas was echoed by his campaign consultant Mike DeVanney.

“Districts like the 48th are in transition — from blue-collar areas in which people increasingly didn’t stick around after high school to a gas region with opportunity for the future,” DeVanney said. “They used to go Republican at the top of the ticket but now that attitude is spreading to lower offices as well.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.


 

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A special election in Pennsylvania turned out to be a huge victory for Republicans that few expected — Tim O’Neal prevailed over Democrat Clark Mitchell to fill a vacancy in the state House in a district considered safely Democratic. And by a whopping 11 percentage points — 55 to 44 percent.
pennsylvania, tim o’neal, clark mitchell, mitt romney
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2018-55-17
Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:55 PM
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