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HARRISBURG – A Republican state lawmaker is the heavy favorite to fill an open congressional seat in northern Pennsylvania.

Rep. Fred Keller survived four rounds of voting at a closed-door meeting Saturday in Williamsport where 202 party conferees sorted through 14 candidates. Keller will run in the May 21 special election against Democrat Marc Friedenberg to represent the 12th District, which covers all or parts of 15 counties.

The winner will fill the remainder of Tom Marino’s term in the solidly Republican district. Marino, a Republican, cited health reasons for resigning three weeks into his fifth term.

The fifth-term Keller is one of the most conservative state lawmakers in Pennsylvania, with a 90 percent lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union.

Friedenberg is a lawyer and Penn State information technology instructor.

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