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By J.D. Prose

CENTER TWP. — U.S. Rep.-elect Conor Lamb kept his momentum going Thursday by easily capturing the Beaver County Democratic Committee endorsement in the 17th Congressional District primary over his two opponents.

Lamb, a Mount Lebanon resident, received 102 votes while Sewickley attorney Beth Tarasi received just 11 votes, and consultant and Democratic activist Ray Linsenmayer of McCandless Township collected none. The primary election is May 15.

“I’m proud to be endorsed by the Beaver County Democrats,” Lamb said. “I can’t wait to sit down with people in Beaver County, listen to their concerns, and talk about how we can solve the problems we face here in western Pennsylvania.”

A move by some committee members to have an open primary with no endorsement was rejected.

In the endorsement for lieutenant governor, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman also coasted to a win, beating Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman 96 to 18. Those were the only two in the crowded Democratic field to seek the endorsement.

Before the voting, candidates were given a few minutes to address the crowd inside the Monaca Turners Club. “We are so proud to be like you, western Pennsylvania Democrats,” Lamb said.

Lamb recalled his recent battle to win the 18th Congressional District special election against Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone and joked about the onslaught of TV ads targeting him. But he grew serious in telling the committee that they belonged to “the party of FDR” and that people want to know “their government walks on their side of the street.”

Recounting a conversation with a 77-year-old veteran he met on the special election campaign trail, Lamb said he promised the man he would fight any proposed cuts to Medicare. “There are some things to me that are non-negotiable,” Lamb said.

Lamb also spoke glowingly of organized labor, which was instrumental in his victory last week. Earlier in the day, the Allegheny-Fayette County Central Labor Council unanimously endorsed Lamb in his 17th Congressional District campaign after working hard for him in the special election campaign.

Lamb said increasing economic opportunities in the region is key to providing hope to those who might otherwise become frustrated and fall victim to the opioid crisis.

“If we have better opportunities we can start to turn the tide,” he said.

The former federal prosecutor and Marine drew upon his military background, though, to connect with Beaver County Democrats yearning to oust U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-12, Sewickley.

Lamb talked about the boot camp instructors who reminded recruits “you joined us” when they were struggling to crawl through the mud. “I am joining you,” Lamb told the committee members.

The new 17th District will cover Beaver County, part of Cranberry Township in Butler County and the northern and western parts of Allegheny County.

Tarasi touted her local roots, and shared her struggles as a single mother and her work as an attorney on cases such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill. “I am a fighter,” she said. “I want to fight for you.”

Her clients call her a friend, but also a “tenacious bulldog,” said Tarasi, who played basketball for the University of Pittsburgh.

Linsenmayer said he was the only candidate to support a ban on assault weapons and pledge to protect Planned Parenthood against defunding attempts. “I’ve been working for Democrats my whole adult life,” the North Hills activist said.