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Republican Fred Keller Wins 12th District Special Election

The GOP will retain control of Pennsylvania’s 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican Fred Keller, of Snyder County, defeated Centre County Democrat Marc Friedenberg in Tuesday’s special election to succeed five-term GOP Rep. Tom Marino, who resigned from Congress in January.

Keller, who has represented the 85th district in the state House since 2011, will serve the remainder of Marino’s term ending in January 2021. With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Keller had a lead of 71 percent (67,072votes) to Friedenberg’s 29 percent (27,385) in the deep red district representing portions of 15 counties from the northern tier through south central Pennsylvania.

“I’m honored to have the support of the hardworking people of the 12th Congressional District and for their trust in electing me to represent them in Congress,” Keller said. “Tonight is the beginning of us working together to address the issues that the people have told us will positively impact every family across central and northeast Pennsylvania.”

For Friedenberg, a Penn State information sciences and technology professor and attorney, it was an uphill climb with which he was already acquainted. The Ferguson Township resident challenged and lost to Marino in November’s election. As was the case last year, Friedenberg held a lead in Centre County, one of the few blue pockets in the district.

“We’ve made progress here in this campaign. This is the beginning of a real movement,” Friedenberg said. “I see activists fighting all across this district, fighting for a path forward. The days of conceding rural Pennsylvania are over. We organized central Pennsylvania. We built real momentum here. Next year we turn Pennsylvania blue and we end the Trump administration.”

Keller became a factory worker out of high school and rose to be plant manager at Conestoga Wood Specialties, also starting his own property management and construction company along the way. He grew up in a poor family and said that his experience has taught him the value of education and hard work. He said he would bring his experience as a worker, business owner and legislator to representing the 12th district.

“That’s the experience I bring to wanting to serve the people of the 12th Congressional District, but also the perspective of having lived the American dream, that is where in America anything is possible,” Keller said in an interview last month.

One of the state house’s more conservative members, with a lifetime 90 percent rating by the American Conservative Union, Keller is also a supporter of President Donald Trump, who spoke at a rally for Keller on Monday night in Montoursville and endorsed him in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Fred is Strong on Crime, Second Amendment, Military, Vets, and Healthcare. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

In Centre County, the 12th District includes State College, Ferguson Township, Harris Township, College Township, part of Halfmoon Township and the Penns Valley Area. It also includes portions of Bradford, Clinton, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and Wyoming counties.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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