PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s expected to be the hottest race in western Pennsylvania.
Congressman Conor Lamb, a Democrat, is defending his congressional seat against one of President Donald Trump’s favorite candidates, Republican Sean Parnell.
Lamb sees himself as a moderate Democrat and long-time supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I think he really understands what it will take to build back the middle class and build back the industrial base, the jobs base, the quality of life that we enjoyed in western Pennsylvania for so much of the 20th century,” Lamb told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Parnell, a conservative, was embraced by President Trump before he even announced his candidacy.
“I feel like he’s a fighter. Does he always say the right thing? Absolutely not,” says Parnell. “But I think his policies have been good for the country. And, by and large, I feel like he has the backs of the people, not just Republicans, but everybody.”
Lamb is on Biden’s Energy Task Force, and he says he’s talked up this region’s energy priorities.
“Here in western Pennsylvania, natural gas drilling is still very prominent. Nuclear energy is incredibly important, as is the future of carbon capture technology so that we can keep making steel, keep making all petrochemicals, keep making these kinds of things that we make here. And he’s not opposed to any of that,” Lamb said.
But Parnell sees both Biden and Lamb as risky choices when it comes to fracking and the Beaver County cracker plant.
“With Congressman Lamb, you can’t listen to what he says about the oil and gas industry here in western Pennsylvania,” says Parnell. “You have to watch what he does and look at his voting card.”
Lamb says you can support both local energy and the environment.
“There are risks, and I want to be honest about them and talk about ways we can improve,” says Lamb.
But Parnell says Biden’s energy plan will cost jobs here, requiring retraining.
“It says, ‘The Unity Task Force supports investing in the education and retraining of unemployed energy workers for jobs in clean energy-related industries,'” says Parnell.
Both candidates will have plenty of money in this campaign.
Parnell outraised Lamb in the second quarter, $717,000 to $441,000. But Lamb has $1.3 million cash on hand. Parnell has $870,000.
Both are expected to spend up to $2 million apiece.