HARRISBURG, Pa.—Republican Fred Keller, a conservative state lawmaker, won the special election for Congress on Tuesday, May 21, in a heavily Republican district that sprawls across areas of central and northern Pennsylvania that are a stronghold for President Donald Trump.
Keller, of Snyder County, will replace Republican Tom Marino, who resigned in January after he emerged as a strong Trump ally in Congress.
Keller beat Democrat Marc Friedenberg in the 12th District, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 100,000.
Great news for Republicans: Fred Keller has just won the hard fought for Pennsylvania Congressional contest in a LANDSLIDE, over 70% of the vote. Thanks to the thousands who showed up for the Rally last night. Congratulations to Fred and his wonderful family!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2019
“Mr. President… Our support for you is as strong today as it ever was.” -Fred Keller
— GOP (@GOP) May 21, 2019
On Monday night, Trump flew into the district for a campaign rally where he also touted Keller’s candidacy.
#BREAKING GOP’s Keller wins Pennsylvania’s special US House election.
A heavily Republican swath of central and northern Pennsylvania has a new congressman to represent it in Washington. pic.twitter.com/POdf6blSFC
— Alexis Wainwright (@AWainwrightTV) May 22, 2019
Keller, in turn, is a staunch advocate for Trump, appearing on stage with him at the rally in Montoursville and saying he wants to go to Congress to be a vote for the president.
— GOP (@GOP) May 22, 2019
The two-year term runs through 2020.
Keller, 53, is a fifth-term member of the state House, and one of its most conservative, with a 90 percent lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union.
The district covers all or parts of 15 counties and strongly backed Trump in the 2016 election, with Trump beating Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 2-to-1 there.
Before he ran for the Legislature, Keller was a plant manager for a wood cabinet supplier and ran a real estate management business.
Friedenberg, a lawyer and Penn State information technology instructor, also ran in November and lost to Marino by 32 percentage points.
Friedenberg supported ideas that are popular on the Democratic Party’s left wing, including “Medicare for All”—shifting the nation’s health care system to a government-run “single-payer” plan—and the Green New Deal, a socialist plan that would give the government control over the economy.