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Battle heats up in 16th Congressional District

Deb Erdley
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Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, 66, of Butler is running for re-election to his 3rd Congressional District seat.

Political analysts say voting patterns appear to be shifting as Pennsylvania voters get ready to cast ballots in the new 16 th Congressional District this fall.

Four- term Republican incumbent Mike Kelly, R-Butler, who is seeking re-election in the new district, ran unopposed two years ago in the former 3 rd congressional District when Trump carried it with 61 percent of the vote. Two years earlier Kelly won the district with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

But Pennsylvania’s new congressional map pared Armstrong County from the district and added half of Erie County.

Now Erie lawyer Ron DiNicola, a well known Democrat in the city on the lake is challenging Kelly in the new district.

First the Cook Political Report shifted the District from Likely Republican to leans Republican. Tuesday Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics followed suit. Analysts there bumped 17 congressional districts up slightly in favor of Democrats, predicting for the first time that odds of Democrats taking a majority in the House are slightly better than 50-50.

Citing similarities to spring’s special election in the 18 th district where Democratic newcomer Conor Lamb won a narrow victory in a Western Pennsylvania district Trump had carried by 20 points, Sabato’s Crystal Ball predicted a tighter race this fall, but said the new district will likely remain in Republican hands.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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