Republican state Sen. Lloyd K. Smucker has defeated Democrat Christina M. Hartman in Pennsylvania’s 16th District, The Associated Press projects.
Smucker led Hartman 54 percent to 43 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting.
Incumbent GOP Rep. Joe Pitts is retiring after 10 terms.
Pennsylvania’s 16th District contains most of fertile Lancaster County, the commonwealth’s top agricultural producer, as well as the rural southern portion of Chester County. The district’s northern tip captures the city of Reading.
While Smucker has always won his election races comfortably, the district is competitive on the presidential level. President Barack Obama carried it by 1 point in 2008, before losing it by 7 points in 2012.
Some Democrats thought the party could not just shrink Republicans’ majority in the House, but grab control. The 16th District race was on what Roll Call reported was called the “We-Can-Actually-Win-This List.”
The nomination of Donald Trump as the Republicans’ presidential standard-bearer and the unpredictable nature of the election had Democrats hoping a host of long-shot candidates could return them to the political promised land.
“If not this year, when? If it doesn’t get done this year, it doesn’t get done,” Hartman said in August.
What she needed was to catch an electoral wave in favor of Democrats, but she fell short of helping start such a wave.
Smucker, the member-elect, fits the familiar profile of the small business owner who got involved in local politics and then went on the state legislature before winning a seat in the House.
He won the April 26 Republican primary, 54-46 percent, over Chet Beiler, his second cousin.
Smucker owned a commercial wall and ceiling construction business and served on the West Lampeter Township Planning Commission and then the West Lampeter Township Board of Supervisors.
In 2008, he was elected to the state Senate and has been chairman of the Education Committee since 2015.
As a member of a bipartisan education funding commission, Smucker had a hand in devising a new formula to distribute state money to local school districts to make the shares more equitable.
He also introduced a bill in 2015 that would make Pennsylvania residents who were illegally living in the United States eligible for the lower, in-state tuition rate at public institutions of higher education.
Smucker said he would like to eventually serve on the Ways and Means Committee so that he could play a role in a pro-growth tax policy.
Jason Dick contributed to this report.