U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker emerged from Tuesday's midterm elections with a decisive victory over Democratic challenger Jess King to secure a second term representing Lancaster County in Congress and keep the district in Republican hands for another two years.
The Republican incumbent won by about 18 percentage points to defeat the first-time candidate, who had built the most extensive field operation and raised more money than any previous Lancaster Democrat.
Smucker secured 159,727 votes, or 59 percent, according to the unofficial results, with nearly 100 percent of precincts reporting.
King, a progressive running in an area that President Donald Trump carried by 26 points two years ago, won 111,375 votes, or 41 percent.
Smucker credited the win to his record and the promises he made in his first race two years ago, and that he kept — tax reform and regulatory relief being at the forefront.
“It's a great record to run on," he said.
Smucker said he thought the race would be closer, referring to King's $1.6 million in fundraising and her “good grassroots organization.”
The 11th Congressional District race was widely viewed as a safe GOP seat.
In the statewide redistricting earlier this year, the historically Republican district was redrawn to include even more GOP voters — leaving King with an uphill battle in an area with 100,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.
While the early results showed King made gains in key suburban precincts, she was unable to keep up with the total Republican votes for the well-known incumbent.
In conceding the race, King said her team had made the race competitive despite analysts saying she “never had a chance."
“We're going to keep working hard and loving our neighbors as ourselves," she said. “We're going to celebrate what we can do when we work together against all odds. And we're going to keep holding our elected officials accountable.”
Smucker, 54, of West Lampeter Township, campaigned on his conservative record and the Republican-passed tax cuts while taking aim at King for what he called her “radical” and “socialist” stances
The congressman said King represented the starkest difference in philosophies compared to any of his previous opponents in his 2016 race for Congress and his his two prior runs for the state Senate.
And in a district that should have been safely Republican, he acknowledged King had made the race competitive.
King, a 44-year-old Lancaster resident and first-time candidate for public office, has led the Lancaster economic development nonprofit Assets since 2010. She went on leave last year, and in her 16 months of campaigning raised more than $1.6 million — the same as Smucker — and built a small army of supporters throughout the district.
While Smucker highlighted the “booming economy" under the last two years of Republican control in Washington, D.C., King talked about stagnant wages and how she believes the tax cuts were a form of failed trickle-down economics.
As Smucker pushed for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, King spoke often about her support for a “Medicare-for-all" national health care system.
And as King repeatedly criticized both “political party establishments," Smucker talked about bringing his conservative values to a group like the Problem Solvers Caucus, with which he has worked to develop bipartisan solutions.
Smucker said after his victory that King represented a “very different agenda,” and in the end, “our message resonated with the people across the district.”