Pennsylvania special election: Saccone touts economy as Lamb spends millions

Tricia Pearson
March 14, 2018

There is no automatic recount on the congressional district level in Pennsylvania, according to state law. Although Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, Lamb looks now to be in striking distance of Saccone, down by single digits in most polls and even leading in a few released just this week.

Voters in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District are heading to the polls in a neck-and-neck special election that's caught national attention.

Numerous comments posted online took aim at Trump's June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney, where the president's son was reportedly promised "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The latest reports showed a continuing pattern of pro-Saccone outside spending overwhelming pro-Lamb spending by a factor of about 10-to-1. "If they'd nominated a liberal who allowed the campaign to become nationalized, it would be over by now", said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

"The congressional map for potentially competitive races has just gotten a whole hell of a lot bigger", said Mike Mikus, a western Pennsylvania-based Democratic consultant.

Lamb told reporters Tuesday he doesn't think the election is a referendum on President Donald Trump.

He added, the economy is set to get even better with jobs and wages going up. The fact that Saccone reportedly made no effort to reach out to these voters, either by running a get-out-the-vote operation or even by attempting to dress the part, didn't help either.

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Republicans in Pennsylvania have run with a slightly different spin, emphasizing that registered Democrats slightly outnumber registered Republicans in the rural areas south and west of Pittsburgh.

We learned in 2016 that done-deal elections aren't actually done until they're done. Watch Pittsburgh television for an hour or so and you'll hear an ominous voice warning that Conor Lamb "isn't one of us". Pennsylvania-18, which stretches south and west from Pittsburgh to the OH and West Virginia lines, is supposed to be a safe Republican district. But the party focused more on the need to keep the seat in Republican hands than on Saccone's dozens of years in public service.

The victor replaces Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned in October amid a sex scandal.

"The Democrats. they're throwing everything they can at this race", he said. "I don't think this is really resonating that much in Trumpworld", said Kurt Schlichter, a frequent Fox News guest and Townhall columnist.

Conor Lamb, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, speaks during a campaign rally with members of the United Mine Workers of America at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. He also says he opposes major new gun restrictions - though he backs expanded background checks - and declared himself personally opposed to abortion, despite his support for its legality.

That is close to Clinton's description during the campaign of Trump voters as "a basket of deplorables", a remark she later regretted as a political strategy error, not as a statement offensive to people who voted for Trump. "It's not the "crumbs" that Nancy Pelosi and her crew on the left say", Saccone said in a debate.

On Tuesday, after casting his own ballot in the suburb of Pittsburgh where he lives, Lamb will hit the polls with his grandmother, then with a conservative Democrat whom he defeated for the party's nomination. The AFL-CIO counts 87,000 votes from union households - around a fifth of the electorate. "He needs a good wingman". Only two are on the air now - one from the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action which briefly mentions the tax law, and a radio ad from a progressive group attacking Saccone for supporting the law. You don't see me in the New-York-City-rubber-chicken-dinner-nonsense circuit.

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