Joe Biden congratulates Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on reelection victory | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Joe Biden congratulates Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on reelection victory

Natasha Lindstrom
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former Vice President Joe Biden with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald during an event in the South Side on Tuesday.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald looks over early voting results with local Democrats the South Side Flats on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks at an election night event in the South Side on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at an event celebrating the reelection of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at an event celebrating the reelection of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at an event in the South Side Flats on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former Vice President Joe Biden greets attendees at an election event in the South Side Flats on the Southside on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

When Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald claimed victory Tuesday night in his race for a third term, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was there to congratulate him.

“This is a helluva man, and a helluva family,” the former vice president said of Fitzgerald as he addressed a boisterous crowd around 9:40 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 5 in Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Fitzgerald, a Democrat who lives in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, gave a brief victory speech after Biden spoke.

“I don’t take it for granted, even though it’s going to be my last term and my last local election,” said Fitzgerald, 60.

County code limits county executives to three terms, so this looks to be Fitzgerald’s last four years in the county’s top office.

With more than 91% of the county’s precincts reporting unofficial results around 11 p.m., Fitzgerald had collected 69.4% of the votes cast compared with 30.1% for Republican challenger Matt Drozd. Nearly 90,000 votes separated the candidates, unofficial tallies showed.

Fitzgerald highlighted several goals for the upcoming four years, including fostering more opportunities for young people, attracting more jobs to the region and completing transportation projects such as the Bus Rapid Transit plan to link Pittsburgh’s Downtown and Oakland neighborhoods.

“We’re going to keep moving jobs and helping the people who have been left behind,” Fitzgerald said.

Biden, a native of Scranton, quipped that his own time as a former county-level councilman was more challenging than his service in Congress.

“I ran for the United States Senate because it was too hard being a councilman. And you probably think I’m kidding — I’m not, man,” Biden said, eliciting laughs from the crowd. “We did zoning, and if I don’t see another zoning hearing in my life, I will die a happy man.” Biden spent 36 years as a U.S. senator for Delaware before becoming vice president in the Obama administration.

Fitzgerald spent 11 years as president of county council prior to running for the county’s top post in 2012.

A former business executive, two-term county councilman and North Hills School District Board member, Drozd had said he hoped to appeal to people of all political backgrounds. He described himself as a “moderate Republican” and “true bipartisan candidate.”

The last time Fitzgerald faced a Republican challenger, during his first run for county executive in 2011, he defeated D. Raja with nearly two-thirds of the vote. In 2015, Fitzgerald cruised to his second term, securing about three-quarters of all votes countywide to defeat independent candidate Todd Elliott Koger.

RELATED: Fitzgerald announces reelection bid at political event in Pittsburgh’s South Side

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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