United States House Elections Primer: Pennsylvania (Districts 10-18)

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As we prepare for the 2020 elections, Yesh Ginsburg and Steen Kirby will give a general overview of all 435 United States House of Representatives races. This is a basic overview to introduce you to the major candidates. All Partisan Lean numbers are taken from the Cook Partisan Voting Index. We will update this page as the races progress if anything noteworthy arises.

Pennsylvania has 18 Congressional Districts. Currently the delegation is split right down the middle––nine Republicans and nine Democrats. We’re also splitting the state between two articles. We’re discussing the first nine districts––including the Democratic heavy Philadelphia areas––in the other article. The other nine districts––including seven of the nine Republican districts––are in this article.

Note that Pennsylvania underwent serious redistricting in 2018. While we usually provide the last two elections for each district to create a trend, we will not be doing so for Pennsylvania, because that doesn’t give any real insight into trends for the district. Also note that we will refer to the number of terms an incumbent has served based on them, not based on their district. So someone who has been in office since 2014 will be a third-term Representative, even if they have only represented their technical current district since 2018.

Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District

Incumbent: Scott Perry (Republican, fourth term)

Partisan Lean: R+6

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Scott Perry (R) 149,365 51.32
George Scott (D) 141,668 48.68

Republican Candidate:

Scott Perry (campaign website)

Perry has held this seat for four terms, but it’s far less Republican now than it was when he was first elected. He is somewhat moderate on some issues, campaigning on protecting the more popular parts of the Affordable Care Act. Perry is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and is pro-life and pro-guns.

Democratic Candidate:

Eugene DePasquale (campaign website)

DePasquale has held statewide office, so Perry might have less of the name recognition advantage than a usual incumbent has. He is running on a public healthcare option and reforming the way Congress works, including a “No Budget No Pay” law.

Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District

Incumbent: Lloyd Smucker (Republican, second term)

Partisan Lean: R+14

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Lloyd Smucker (R) 163,708 58.98
Jess King (D) 113,876 41.02

Republican Candidate:

Lloyd Smucker (campaign website)

Smucker is a conservative Republican, focusing on his record on tax cuts and immigration, among others.

Democratic Candidate:

Sarah Hammond (campaign website)

Hammond is a progressive Democrat, supporting universal healthcare, the Green New Deal and abolishing ICE, among other progressive policies.

Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District

Incumbent: Fred Keller (Republican, first term)

Partisan Lean: R+17

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Tom Marino (R) 161,047 66.04
Marc Friedenburg (D) 82,825 33.96

Republican Candidate:

Fred Keller (campaign website)

Keller won this seat in a Special Election in 2019 after Marino retired from Congress, receiving over 68% of the vote. He supports free market solutions to healthcare, as well as for conservative solutions to immigration (though not explicitly by building the wall).

Democratic Candidate:

Lee Griffin (campaign website)

Griffin is a very progressive Democrat, supporting Medicare for All and progressive responses to climate change, gender issues, and more.

Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District

Incumbent: John Joyce (Republican, first term)

Partisan Lean: R+22

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
John Joyce (R) 178,533 70.49
Brent Ottaway (D) 74,733 29.51

Republican Candidate:

John Joyce (campaign website)

Joyce in a conservative Republican, supporting President Trump and building the wall, as well as being fiercely pro-life and pro-guns, and “dismantling Obamacare completely.”

Democratic Candidate:

Todd Rowley (campaign website)

Rowley is a very liberal Democrat, supporting a $15 minimum wage and a public option for healthcare. He is spending a bit of money in this race, but nowhere near as much as the strong incumbent.

Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District

Incumbent: Guy Reschenthaler (Republican, first term)

Partisan Lean: R+14

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Guy Reschenthaler (R) 151,386 57.91
Bibiana Boerio (D) 110,051 42.09

Republican Candidate:

Guy Reschenthaler (campaign website)

Reschenthaler is a conservative Republican, running on his record as a prosecutor against terrorists, and his hard-line policies on immigration.

Democratic Candidate:

Bill Marx (campaign website)

Marx is a very moderate Democrat, who takes an almost Republican approach on climate and energy issues. He is in favor of expanding the Affordable Care Act and a new wages program to keep the minimum wage up with inflation.

Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District

Incumbent: Glenn Thompson (Republican, sixth term)

Partisan Lean: R+20

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Glenn Thompson (R) 165,245 67.84
Susan Boser (D) 78,327 32.16

Republican Candidate:

Glenn Thompson (campaign website)

Thompson is a fiscal conservative, advocating for lowering the national debt and making the United States more energy efficient. He has been a consistent Republican in Congress and is popular in the district because of it.

Democratic Candidate:

Robert Williams (campaign website)

Williams supports Medicare for All, though he takes decidedly less progressive positions on other issues. He has spent no money and is not currently actively campaigning.

Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District

Incumbent: Mike Kelly (Republican, fifth term)

Partisan Lean: R+8

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Mike Kelly (R) 135,348 51.58
Ronald DiNicola (D) 124,109 47.3

Republican Candidate:

Mike Kelly (campaign website)

Kelly is a small government conservative who wants lower and simpler taxes, as well as less business regulation. He does campaign on a relatively moderate position on energy issues.

Democratic Candidate:

Kristy Gnibus (campaign website)

Gnibus is running on general liberal ideas more than specific policies right now, though she does support a federal $15 minimum wage. She is spending a fair amount in a district that Kelly only won by four points in 2018, though she is currently far-outspent by Kelly.

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District

Incumbent: Conor Lamb (Democratic, first term)

Partisan Lean: R+3

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Conor Lamb (D) 183,162 56.26
Keith Rothfus (R) 142,417 43.74

Republican Candidate:

Sean Parnell (campaign website)

Parnell is a conservative Republican highlighting immigration issues and building the wall. He is pushing strongly against some notions he claims “liberals” are taking too far, including healthcare choice and defunding the police.

Democratic Candidate:

Conor Lamb (campaign website)

Lamb is a very moderate Democrat, and he is very pro-union. He barely took over this seat in a Special Election in early 2018, and he voted with Republicans the majority of that first year in Congress. He has moved a bit to the left in his first full term in Congress, though he is still one of the most moderate Democrats currently in Congress.

Yesh’s notes: Republicans are targeting this seat as one to flip in 2020, and they are pouring money into race. That makes the choice of Parnell a bit of a strange one, as he seems further right than the district as a whole, especially considering Lamb’s moderate stances and his margin of victory in November 2018.

Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District

Incumbent: Mike Doyle (Democratic, 13th term)

Partisan Lean: D+13

2018 Results:

Candidate Votes %
Mike Doyle (D) 231,472 100

Republican Candidate:

Luke Negron (campaign website)

Negron is a young conservative, pushing for lowering the national debt and keeping retirement programs solvent. He also stresses that he is a Christian, taking a pro-life stance and fighting against internet pornography.

Yesh’s notes: Negron is young, energetic, and well-spoken. I do not know if he has a career in policy or politics, but there definitely is room for him on the conservative podcast speaking tour. His campaign feels much more like a Ben Shapiro or Dave Rubin ideal than an actual political campaign.

Democratic Candidate:

Mike Doyle (campaign website)

Doyle is a consistent liberal Democrat who has served this district for decades. He is currently focusing on his record opposing President Trump, but the district knows and likes him well, so it might not matter much which specific tactics he chooses.


There are a few huge battlegrounds in this group. Definitely keep an eye on the 10th and 17th districts, though some others have interesting storylines as well.

Interested in the rest of our primers for other House races? We have them all listed on our primer home page.


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