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Special State House Race Features Founder Of Trump House And A Republican-Turned-Democrat

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The sudden death of Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Reese means voters in one local district will elect a new state representative in a special election this May.

Both parties have picked their candidates, and the choice is between two women. One is a Republican who strongly supports former President Donald Trump, and the other is a Republican so unhappy with the former president that she became a Democrat.

Both Republican Leslie Rossi and Democrat Mariah Fisher are married with kids, but the two major-party candidates in this special election in Westmoreland and Somerset counties are quite different politically.

Leslie Rossi, Mariah Fisher
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Rossi created the Trump House in Latrobe to elect Trump in two general elections.

"I am still behind Donald Trump 100 percent because I support his platform and his agenda because that is the conservative movement I am moving forward with," Rossi told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Rossi is now the Republican nominee for state House in the 59th District that stretches across 17 communities.

"I've demonstrated to them that they are my priority. I am the voice of the people. I will listen to them, and I will help them in any way, and I will make the best decisions I can," says Rossi.

Fisher, a recent Republican-turned-Democrat, is a local photographer and a member of the Ligonier Borough Council. She says she supported the Biden-Harris ticket over Trump-Pence, but it was the assault on the U.S. Capitol that triggered her party registration change.

"I was very shocked at what happened, as I think a lot of people were. And I just decided I'd had enough," says Fisher.

Now a Democrat, Fisher points to her experience as a Republican council member, chairing the restoration of Ligonier's town square, The Diamond. She hopes all voters will look at her qualifications.

"I hope they will at least consider me because of my values and my background on council and what I've already shown I am able to do," Fisher said.

The district is overwhelmingly Republican (23,942 Republicans to 14,685 Democrats with 4,894 independents and others), which makes Rossi the odds-on favorite. But Fisher is betting she can attract both Republicans and independents to win.

The candidates have just 13 weeks to persuade the voters.

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