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Washington County has unusually high numbers of people overdosing on heroin.

Photographer: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Francis Wilkinson

‘We Just Want Someone Sane’: What Happens When a Small Town Goes MAGA

Washington County, Pennsylvania, was never known as Crazytown. Then election deniers decided to run for local office.

(This is the second in a series on how the spread of election denialism has affected Pennsylvania politics; the first is “In Pennsylvania, the Big Lie Is Spreading Its Roots.”)

Washington County was never known as Crazytown. The parameters of local power weren’t hard to discern when steel and coal dominated the economy. They’re not much different now. Situated at the western edge of Pennsylvania, the county of 200,000 sits atop the Marcellus Shale. Gas is plentiful and the industry that extracts it is influential. Some farmers have gotten rich leasing rights to their land. Plenty of workers, blue- and white-collar, are doing well servicing the industry. The county, still crawling out of the deep pit left when union steel and coal jobs vanished, has made itself a reliable partner to drilling.