State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff scored a commanding victory Tuesday to retain his seat representing the 171st District in the house of Representatives..
Benninghoff, the incumbent Republican, will return to Harrisburg for a ninth term after handily defeating Democratic challenger Christopher Lee.
Benninghoff won with 65.2 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. His district includes a large swath of Centre County and two municipalities in Mifflin County.
“I’m honored and humbled,” Benninghoff said Tuesday night. “I like to think getting re-elected is an affirmation of the work we’ve done. We try to do our best to represent our area and what’s important to our constituents.”
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The longtime representative took the majority of the precincts in his district, even outpacing Lee 2,083 to 942 in Harris Township, the challenger’s home precinct, according to unofficial results.
Benninghoff said his experience and familiarity with the district will serve his constituents in Harrisburg immediately. He said he is now the 16th most senior member of the Republican House.
“I think people realize the time develops your experience and knowledge,” he said. “It’s a trade-off if you decide to replace someone, you give up their seniority and influence.”
Lee, who billed himself as an independent thinker and focused on bringing change to Harrisburg, scored big victories in the six State College precincts where his race appeared on the ballot. He picked up 4,354 of his votes on those four precincts alone, according to unofficial results.
Lee could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Late Tuesday night, Benninghoff said he was ready to get to work.
“I’ll be in Harrisburg in 11 hours,” he said.
He has said his priorities, if he were to be re-elected, are to address transportation, state pensions and school property taxes.
“It’s going to be very demanding,” he said. “Each will require more revenue, and that’s tough to find.”
He cited his PEP (Promoting Employment across Pennsylvania) bill, which recently passed the General Assembly, as one creative way to find more money. The bill allows companies moving into Pennsylvania to retain 95 percent of the personal income tax of their employees, providing those companies create a minimum number of jobs.