Republican incumbent Scott Perry held off Democratic challenger George Scott in the race for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.
Perry was holding 51.3 percent of the vote Tuesday night, with very few precincts left to come in, confirming polls that had him with a two to three point lead in the weeks before the election.
“I feel great, but we have a lot of work to do,” Perry said. “I also want to congratulate my opponent. Being in the arena is very difficult.”
Voter turnout was extremely high for a midterm. Cumberland County saw 58 percent of registered voters participating, versus 50 percent in the 2014 election.
Perry carried Cumberland County by about 6 points, and York County by about 12 points, but saw his margin trimmed in Dauphin, where Scott led by about 9 points.
The 10th District has been closely watched by national observers in recent weeks as a potential indicator of Democrats’ chances of taking back the House.
Perry’s victory shows a narrowing of the GOP’s advantage in a district President Donald Trump would have won by about nine points had the district existed in 2016. Pennsylvania’s district boundaries were re-drawn this year as part of the state Supreme Court’s anti-gerrymandering decision.
The map change put Perry on far less of a sure footing than he was in his old district, Pennsylvania’s 4th under the old maps, where Perry had won by a 32-point margin in 2016.
“The new lines have clearly changed things dramatically,” said GOP state Sen. Mike Regan, who attended Perry’s victory party.
Matched up in a much less conservative district, Scott went heavily after Perry’s membership in the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, where Perry had supported measures to force votes on Trump’s proposed border wall, of which Perry is a vocal supporter.
Perry also faced heavy negative advertising from Democratic groups on his support of the GOP’s health care bill, and the Freedom Caucus’ push to remove insurance regulations for patients with pre-existing conditions from the final legislation.
But Scott also found himself under siege by Republicans for an ad during his primary race in which Scott burned a rifle to make a point about gun control. Conservative groups also aligned against Scott’s support for a federal minimum wage increase, and his support for what he described as a gradual move toward single-payer health care.
Going into 2020, Regan said, down-ballot Republicans should focus on the positive, particularly the economy, and not get dragged into the muck.
“It’s going to be a presidential election year, which influences it a lot,” Regan said. “It may be better to talk about the good we’ve done than attacking each other. ... This election cycle, to me, has been particularly brutal.”
Early in the night, Democrats said the race put them in a strong position going forward, even if Scott lost.
“Even if [Scott] loses by a small margin, he’s shown how to get back into it and breach that chasm,” said Mark Singel, the former Democratic lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania under former Gov. Bob Casey Sr.
“In a state that Donald Trump won, I think it shows that we’ve made a lot of progress in righting the ship,” Singel said.
Perry said that another shot at a repeal-and-replace measure for Obamacare continued to be a high priority going into the next Congress, especially with a larger GOP Senate majority.
“With the new Senate, I would think [health care] is number one or two on the list,” Perry said.