McCANDLESS TWP., Pa. — Keith Rothfus knows he’s in the fight of his political life.
It’s just past noon on Monday and the three-term Republican congressman is doing something he rarely does — sitting. Next door, a group of volunteers can be heard calling voters and running through questions and answers.
“Do you support President Trump’s agenda? Would you consider voting for Congressman Rothfus? Would you like a yard-sign? Yes, Congressman Rothfus is pro-life.”
His volunteers are trying to reach every voter in the newly created Western Pennsylvania 17th Congressional District. The seat moved Rothfus from a district that supported Trump by 20 points to a seat that supported him by just 2.
“I’ve been counted out before, lost before and came back before. It all comes down to earning new voters’ support,” says Rothfus, as he grabs a handful of M&M’s from an oversized bag.
Democrat Rep. Conor Lamb is beating Rothfus by double digits, according to a Monmouth University survey. The GOP has pulled its ad support from Rothfus’ race.
After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew the state’s political map this spring, Rothfus, like several other Republican congresspeople in the state, drew the short straw. He inherited a new district that encompasses a solid mix of suburbs,
Democratic-packed river towns and just enough rural voters to make it a wee bit Republican, but not enough to comprise the new populist coalition that put Trump in the White House. If you’re looking for the swing district in America, this is it: the spot where the “blue wave” could take off for the Democrats.