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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
Dahlkemper is a profile of the endangered Democrat of 2010.
She rode a Democratic surge to win her first Congressional election in 2008, but she did so by only 2 points in a Republican-leaning district in rural Pennsylvania.
This year, the former landscape company owner enjoys the traditional advantages of incumbency --- strong name recognition and a healthy campaign account. But she faces an anti-incumbent wave and the deep-pocketed car dealership owner Mike Kelly, who is trying to prove that Dahlkemper's first victory was a fluke.
Kelly has the momentum going into the final weeks.
He led the incumbent by 6 points in a late September Franklin & Marshall College poll. And while he has trailed in the money race, Kelly loaned his campaign more than $400,000. It's likely that he will dig deeper if he has to down the stretch.
National Democrats will spend here to protect this seat, but Republicans --- who also plan independent expenditures in the final weeks --- are growing more confident.
District Profile from Politics in America
Nestled in the state's northwestern corner, the 3rd takes in all of Erie County -- Pennsylvania's only Lake Erie coastline -- and parts of six other counties. The economy of this Rust Belt, historically blue-collar area centers around the city of Erie's port.
Erie County, where more than two-fifths of the district's residents live, has retained an industrial feel despite decades of decline. Manufacturing still makes up a significant portion of the county's workforce, but residents increasingly rely on the service sector and health care industry. There are several high-tech companies here, and the city also lures visitors to public beaches and Presque Isle State Park during the warmer months.
Outside of Erie, no city has more than 15,000 residents. These communities rely on small businesses and scores of tooling and machine shops, especially in Crawford County. Mercer County (a portion of which is in the 4th) still has some steel mills. Butler County in the south is dominated by manufacturing, but it also hosts Slippery Rock University.
The city of Erie's median household income is well below state and national averages, while surrounding areas are above the median. Pockets of black residents in northern and central Erie help give the county a Democratic lean. These Democratic tendencies are mostly offset by the GOP lean in Butler and Crawford counties. In 2010, Republican Mike Kelly captured the U.S. House, and GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey took wide margins across the district outside of Erie County, one of only six that Democrat Joe Sestak won statewide.
Erie, 101,786; Sharon, 14,038
The rebuilt U.S. Brig Niagara, a fighting ship from the War of 1812, is docked in Erie.
|2010||general||Mike Kelly (R)||111,909||55.7%|
|Kathy Dahlkemper (D)||88,924||44.3%|
|2008||general||Kathy Dahlkemper (D)||146,846||51.2%|
|Phil English (R)||139,757||48.8%|
|2006||general||Phil English (R)||108,525||53.6%|
|Steven Porter (D)||85,110||42.1%|
|Timothy Hagberg (CNSTP)||8,706||4.3%|
|2004||general||Phil English (R)||166,580||60.1%|
|Steven Porter (D)||110,684||39.9%|
|2002||general||Phil English (R)||116,763||77.7%|
|AnnDrea Benson (GREEN)||33,554||22.3%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 49%||John McCain: 49%|
|2004||John Kerry: 46%||George W. Bush: 53%|
|2000||Al Gore: 46%||George W. Bush: 50%|