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In Pa. 10th District, Rep. Scott Perry and Democrat Eugene DePasquale too close to call

Democrats have made gains lately in Central Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.

In this file photo from July 17, 2020, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, left, R-Pa., speaks to Nick Loxas, owner of the Boomerang Comedy Zone in Lower Allen Township, Pa.  (Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP, File)
In this file photo from July 17, 2020, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, left, R-Pa., speaks to Nick Loxas, owner of the Boomerang Comedy Zone in Lower Allen Township, Pa. (Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP, File)Read moreJOE HERMITT / AP

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry and state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale were locked in a tight race in Central Pennsylvania’s 10th District after a campaign that carried echoes of the presidential contest.

By Wednesday afternoon, about 85% of the vote had been reported and Perry had built a lead of about 48,787 votes, but thousands of mail votes, which tend to favor Democrats, had yet to be reported.

Perry, in office since 2013, has been a loyal ally of President Donald Trump and a staunch conservative representing the district, which includes parts of Cumberland, York, and Dauphin Counties.

DePasquale ran as a moderate, hoping to win by gathering votes in Harrisburg and its suburbs, where the Democratic Party has seen some gains in the last several years.

The race was considered one of the closest in the country, with DePasquale consistently polling just a few points behind Perry and most independent analysts labeling it a toss up.

As he waited to vote in person at a Dillsburg church Tuesday afternoon, Perry expressed frustration, as Trump has, that the winner may not be known for some time due to the avalanche of mail ballots.

“That’s just not to me what American should stand for,” Perry told reporters. “The Constitution doesn’t say ‘election week’ or ‘election month.' It’s Election Day ... Now we have all this chaos. To me it’s just not a good look and it’s disappointing.”

As the polls closed, DePasquale thanked his family and supporters on Twitter and said, “Now we make sure every vote is counted."

Perry, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard and an Iraq War veteran,is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Before winning the seat in 2012, he was a state representative for part of the area.

DePasquale, the state’s elected fiscal watchdog since 2013 and also a former state representative, showcased his experience investigating waste and wrongdoing by government agencies in hopes of winning over moderate Republicans and independent voters.

In many ways, the district is a microcosm of the country — with its medium-sized cities Harrisburg and York and smaller cities like Carlisle; inner-ring and outer-ring suburbs; and more rural areas.

The 10th District was redrawn in 2018 to include all of those three cities, which tend to vote more Democratic. That year, Perry narrowly defeated Democrat George Scott. The region has grown in population, particularly in the Harrisburg suburbs, where Democrats have made some inroads. It also has a large number of independent voters.

And the campaigns have at times sounded like miniatures of the presidential race. Perry said he was running to protect America and its values from socialism. He favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and backed Trump’s plans for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. He was also among 18 House Republicans who voted against a resolution to condemn QAnon, the sprawling conspiracy theory that says Trump is fighting a Democratic cabal of child predators.

Like Biden, DePasquale, 49, has called the race a referendum on character. He’s highlighted his middle-class upbringing, spent in his family-owned bar in Pittsburgh. In 1997, DePasquale moved to York, where he briefly served as director of economic development for the city. In 2016, he won the 10th District in his statewide reelection bid by 2 percentage points. Trump won it by 9 points the same year.

The race was one of a handful Democrats had been eyeing to expand their majority in the House. Democrats went into the election with a 232-197 advantage with five vacancies.

DePasquale raised $3.7 million to Perry’s $3.4 million.