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Harrison Democrat vows to run again

| Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 2:06 a.m.
Erin McClelland, 39, of Harrison calls incumbent Keith Rothfus to concede the 12th District congressional race from her campaign party at Sieb's Pub in Ross on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. McClelland told supporters she will run again in 2016.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Erin McClelland, 39, of Harrison calls incumbent Keith Rothfus to concede the 12th District congressional race from her campaign party at Sieb's Pub in Ross on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. McClelland told supporters she will run again in 2016.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus and his wife, Elsie, celebrate his victory over Democratic challenger Erin McClelland on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus and his wife, Elsie, celebrate his victory over Democratic challenger Erin McClelland on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

Democrat Erin McClelland of Harrison said voters of the 12th U.S. Congressional District haven't seen the last of her.

The political novice failed Tuesday in her bid to unseat freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, but she said she plans to run again in two years.

“I think we've built a great support base,” McClelland said late Tuesday, shortly after calling Rothfus to concede. “I'm looking forward to doing it again in 2016.”

According to unofficial election results with all precincts reporting, Rothfus won with 127,043 votes to McClelland's 87,286 among the six counties represented by the 12th District.

In the Alle-Kiski Valley, the district stretches into more than 20 Allegheny and Westmoreland county communities.

Rothfus, 52, did not respond to a reporter's requests for comment. In a statement released by his campaign late Tuesday, he indicated the election's results show voters are pleased with his efforts in Congress to “stop the harmful effects of the President's health care law,” fight for more border security, hold the Veterans Administration accountable for veterans' care and boost the economy.

“The bosses just gave me a performance review on these last two years,” Rothfus said, echoing his campaign references to the district's voters as his employers. “I'm happy to report I will be your employee for another two years.”

McClelland, 39, said falling short on fundraising hurt her campaign. She only raised about $350,000 of the $1.2 million goal she had set, according to recent federal campaign financing documents.

That amount paled in comparison to Rothfus' $2.1 million stockpile.

“I'm a first-time candidate in a state that has a bad history of electing female candidates,” McClelland said.

Rothfus acknowledged McClelland's efforts: “She ran a spirited campaign and is to be commended for the courage to undertake a very challenging endeavor — running for Congress. She has been a strong advocate for her positions, and she was always gracious in our encounters on the campaign trail. I thank her for being a good competitor.”

“I want to address health care in a way that is effective,” said McClelland, a health-care professional who founded the substance-abuse rehabilitation center Arche Wellness LLC in Blawnox.

“I want to bring leadership ideas that fit in this district,” she added.

This marks the first re-election bid for Rothfus, an attorney who serves on the Financial Services and Republican Policy committees.

In 2012, he won the seat by beating Democratic incumbent Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, by about 3 percentage points for the newly reconfigured district. In 2010, Rothfus lost to incumbent Democrat Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, in the former 4th District by about 2.5 points.

Rothfus defeated McClelland by a much larger margin — about 59 percent to 41 percent. He carried every county in the district by at least a 10-point margin.

At about 10:30 p.m., despite a substantial deficit, McClelland said she wasn't ready to concede because a majority of precincts still were uncounted in Beaver County, a county she said Altmire had carried. But Rothfus ultimately won the county by 11 points.

“I'll be back,” McClelland said from Seib's Pub in Ross, where she had gathered with supporters. “I want the seat.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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