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Democrat Madeleine Dean wins Pa.’s new-look Fourth Congressional District

Democrat Madeleine Dean wins Pennsylvania's newly redrawn Fourth Congressional District.

Democrat Madeleine Dean celebrates after winning the Pennsylvania's Fourth Congressional District race at the Operating Engineers Headquarters in Fort Washington on Nov. 6, 2018.
Democrat Madeleine Dean celebrates after winning the Pennsylvania's Fourth Congressional District race at the Operating Engineers Headquarters in Fort Washington on Nov. 6, 2018.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Democrat Madeleine Dean beat Republican Dan David to become the next congresswoman for Pennsylvania's newly redrawn Fourth District.

David called Dean and conceded shortly after 10 p.m.

Dean will be one of at least three women to represent Pennsylvania in Congress and one of a few suburban Democrats expected to flip seats previously served by Republicans.

"Tonight we've changed the face of Congress," Dean said to loud cheers from supporters at the Operating Engineers headquarters in Fort Washington. "Tonight we're sending women to Washington!"

Dean's new seat encompasses most of Montgomery County and a sliver of Berks County. From the outset Dean was favored to win. In the new district registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 50,000 and Hillary Clinton carried the territory in 2016 by about 20 percentage points.

"This is our victory. Finally Montgomery County has a seat at the table," Dean said in reference to redistricting that gave the county its own congressional district. The crowd cheered. "We now have a voice and a vote."

Dean was born and raised in Glenside and is the youngest of seven. From an early age she had the political bug, running for committeewoman when she was a senior at Abington High School and defeating a long-term incumbent.

She went on to graduate from La Salle University and received her law degree from Widener University. She practiced law for 10 years and, while raising three boys, took a job teaching at La Salle. It wasn't until 2011 that she ran for office again, this time for township commissioner. After a few months as commissioner she threw her hat in the ring for the area's state representative seat.

She was elected to the state House in 2012 and for the last six years has represented Abington and Upper Dublin.

Like many Democrats in this election cycle, Dean said that after the 2016 election she felt an "urgency to do more." Once the congressional districts were redrawn, she said she recognized that this was her opportunity to run.

On Election Day, Dean went to two dozen polling locations trying to garner last-minute support. She even got into a minor car accident after her last stop. But as she told supporters when she took the stage Tuesday night, the woman who sideswiped her car was a supporter who told her "she was praying" for Dean to win.

As to what comes first when she gets to Washington, Dean said she wants to work on government reform and "restoring decency to public service."

"The second thing I really want to work on is gun-reform legislation," she said in a brief interview after her victory. "We must do something to save lives. It's a disgrace we haven't done anything by now."

David, who owns a financial services firm in Skippack, held more than a dozen town halls throughout the campaign. He attacked Dean on her pro-$15 minimum-wage stance, noting that her husband's retail bicycle business, Advanced Sports, purchases bikes made in China, where workers are paid just over $2 an hour. He also called for Dean to release the names of foreign investors in her husband's associated company, Jadeland Pacific.

Dean dismissed such questions and said she wasn't obligated under campaign-finance rules to disclose the foreign investors.

In a statement sent after he conceded, David said that despite the outcome, he was proud of the exchange of ideas that took place during the campaign.

"We ran a campaign that rejected the timeworn rhetoric and braved the difficult headwinds of present-day politics," David said. "I also congratulate my opponent Madeleine Dean and wish her the best as she prepares to represent our district."