In Pennsylvania’s most highly contested general primary race, Kevin Strouse defeated Shaughnessy Naughton by a percentage margin of 51 to 49 to earn the 8th congressional district’s Democratic nomination.
Strouse will now move on to face incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who was uncontested in Tuesday’s Republican primary, in November’s general elections.
In a primary race that featured only two challengers, early voting had Strouse up by 10 percentage points before seeing his lead on Naughton gradually shrink over the course of the night, dipping to as low as 1.4 percent.
“It came down to a couple hundred votes,” said Brendan McPhillips, Strouse’s campaign manager, shortly after Naughton had called to concede the race near midnight on Tuesday.
“He thanked Shaughnessy for calling to concede and respected the courage and dignity it took to make that tough call,” he said.
When all votes were tallied, Strouse had mustered an 818 vote lead over his opponent, sealing his campaign’s victory.
McPhillips, though, stressed that the tight race was a great sign for both sides.
“At the end of the day, it was a good day for the Democratic Party,” he said. “It got people out talking about the issues much sooner than they would have otherwise.”
The Democratic challenger will now turn his attention to Fitzpatrick, who has held Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district, which encompasses Bucks County and part of Montgomery County, since 2011.
Serving his third term in Congress, Fitzpatrick was first elected in 2004 before being defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2008.
Fitzpatrick retook the seat in 2010, and was reelected by a comfortable percentage margin of 57 to 43 in 2012.
Strouse is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming an officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. He received an early endorsement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who identified him as a ‘Jumpstart’ candidate and provided monetary and strategic support for his campaign.
After receiving news of his close finish and victory, McPhillips said Strouse gave a victory speech in which he thanked volunteers and asked for their continued support in his campaign.
“We’re all focused on the same goals,” said McPhillips. “We’re just going to get to work talking to voters again and talking about the values we all share.”
The filing deadline for third-party and independent candidates in all Pennsylvania elections is August 1, while voter registration will close on October 6.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s general election will be held on November 4.