By SUSAN JONES
Chris Deluzio came to Pitt in 2018 as legal and policy scholar of the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security. Now his work at that job and later as policy director at Pitt Cyber will help inform his actions as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democrat Deluzio won the race for the 17th Congressional District last week, defeating Republican Jeremy Shaffer for the seat currently held by Conor Lamb. The latest numbers from the Associated Press show Deluzio with 53.2 percent of the vote to Shafer’s 46.8 percent. The district includes the northern half of Allegheny County, part of Butler County and all of Beaver County.
“I thought from the beginning, we could win this race,” Deluzio said in an interview with the University Times last week. “I was, frankly, pleasantly surprised by how big the margin was. We ran ahead of President Biden’s numbers in this district in 2020. And I was just really proud of all the hard work that folks put in to win this and send me off to Washington.”
Deluzio, whose research has focused on election security and algorithms, has been on leave from Pitt since December 2022 and now will leave his job here and be sworn in to Congress on Jan. 3.
“I think my work with Pitt Cyber is going to be a real asset,” he said. “We worked on some really critical issues around protecting our elections and voting rights. We’ve done good work on how the government uses algorithms and on cyber threats to critical infrastructure and our democracy in general. And I think those are real threats and issues that the Congress is going to confront. And that work and Pitt Cyber relationships I’ve made working across campus and across town with folks who have this expertise, I think that’s going to serve me well in Congress.”
Dave Hickton, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and founding director of Pitt Cyber, said Deluzio is “a really, really bright light who has a tremendous future.”
“The institute that I lead is on the cutting edge of serious law and policy questions in the digital space, that’s what our aspiration is, and Chris has been very helpful in that work,” he said. “And hopefully that’s sharpened his talents in a way that will be relevant to his next responsibilities.”
Hickton said he was happy, but not surprised by Deluzio’s margin of victory. “I don’t think there’s any way to be surprised or not surprised about elections anymore,” HIckton said. “He ran a fantastic campaign.
The 17th district race has received a lot of national attention, going back to when Lamb first won it in 2020.
But Deluzio said he’s stayed “focused this whole time on Western Pennsylvania values and issues that matter to folks around here. And that’s what’s going to guide me down in Washington.”
The incoming congressman is a native of Thornburg, in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, and currently lives in Aspinwall with his wife, Zoë, and three young children. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and served in active duty in Iraq. He received his law degree from Georgetown University and worked at the Brennan Center for Justice before coming to Pitt.
Some of the key issues Deluzio hopes to address in Congress, besides just representing the people of his district, are bringing back manufacturing jobs to this region and strengthening union protections for workers. He also hopes to continue working on veterans issues, “particularly around Veterans Affairs, and how critical a fully funded and staffed VA is for veterans like me.”
Congress also has a role in helping build support for higher education, he said.
“I lament how under attack the funding is for higher education and public higher education,” Deluzio said. “It’s a state problem, certainly, but the federal government has something to do with it as well. We aren’t going to tackle the rising cost of education for people if we don’t attack the declining public support for these great institutions of ours, like Pitt.
“One of the things I’ll hope to do some work on in Congress is to make sure that we’re supporting higher education and we’re supporting avenues for people, whether it’s going into a four-year university or finding pathways into the trades, community college, you name it, that are affordable and people aren’t saddled with debt just to get the tools and the education they need to succeed.”
He looks forward to coming back to Pitt as a congressman to see what’s happening on campus and share what he’s doing in Washington. “Pitt is such an important part of our region and a real national treasure.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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