Democrat Lindsey Williams defeats Jeremey Shaffer in tight District 38 state Senate race

The winner will represent Etna, Fox Chapel, Highland Park, and Ross Township.

4 pa senate lindsey williams election 2018
Incline Illustration / Photo: Lindsey Williams Campaign Facebook
MJ Slaby

Updated: 10:22 a.m. Wednesday

In a tight race, Democrat Lindsey Williams defeated Republican Jeremy Shaffer in Allegheny County’s only contested state Senate race to represent District 38, which includes Etna, Fox Chapel, Highland Park, and Ross Township.

With all precincts reporting, as well as absentee ballots added in, Williams had 50.1 percent of the vote to Shaffer’s 49.66 percent, per unofficial Allegheny County election results. In 2016, the district went evenly for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Williams sent out a victory statement early Wednesday morning.

“Winning by 500 votes shows us that every vote matters. Every door knock, every phone call, and every conversation with voters about the issues that matter to them added up to this victory,’ she said in the statement, adding that she can’t wait to get started “fighting for good jobs with fair wages, for access to affordable, quality healthcare, and for fully funded public schools.”

TribLive reported that Shaffer conceded to Williams. In a post on Facebook, he thanked his volunteers and supporters. “Unfortunately, the overall tide against us in this district covering the suburbs and the city was too strong to overcome. With over 120,000 votes cast we came up just short by a few hundred.

The race between Williams, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers communications and political director, and Shaffer, a Ross Township commissioner, became heated in the last few weeks of the campaign.

Shaffer’s campaign manager was connected to signs that labeled Williams as a “socialist,” and Shaffer’s campaign ads continued to promote the idea. Williams joined the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and sought their endorsement, but didn’t get it.

Then, two voters sued to kick Williams off the ballot, saying she didn’t meet the residency requirements. A commonwealth court judge dismissed the suit Oct. 24.

The candidates met for one debate less than a week before the election at CCAC McCandless.

Williams, 35, was a first-time candidate. She supports a $15 an hour minimum wage and moving toward a universal health care system. She was also a Who’s Next: Politics honoree in Nov. 2017.

Shaffer, 41, is an engineer and business owner and supports zero-based budgeting and raising the minimum wage to $10 over several years. He is pro-life.

Both candidates won primary races to earn spots on Tuesday’s ballot. Williams won with nearly 58 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary over Stephanie Walsh, per official county results. Shaffer defeated incumbent Randy Vulakovich (was elected to the Pa. Senate in 2012) with 58.5 percent of the vote.