Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Pa. House race still too close to call


Trump's focus on the race has helped turn it into a referendum on his policies and an early test of how Democrats and Republicans will approach the midterm elections this fall.

Now, they're out supporting Democrat Conor Lamb against Trump-backed Republican Rick Saccone in their home state special election Tuesday. It is somewhat surprising, then, that the Saccone-Lamb showdown seems not to have made much of an impression in MAGA-land.

Saccone said late Tuesday night that there are also provisional and military absentee ballots that still need to be counted.

The strangest part of this whole election, with all of its money and attention, is the fact that the district Saccone and Lamb are competing to represent likely won't exist come November 2018 due to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on district lines. To fend off a Democratic upset, Republicans spent more than $10 million in the race, and Saccone received an 11th-hour campaign visit by Trump.

Lamb, a 33-year old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor, downplayed his opposition to the Republican president on Tuesday and insisted instead that the race hinged on local issues. The White House has blamed the potential loss on Saccone.

Saccone's poor performance is worrying for Republicans who were sure that tax cuts, the party's only major legislative achievement under Trump, would be a vote victor this year. "The wave of voters that came out for Trump, they check out once he's no longer in". Yet President Trump and his chief allies invested tremendous time and resources in keeping the seat in Republican hands. The theme of the speech was to get energized against Democrats and the Democratic Party.

Lamb, on the other hand, "is the flawless candidate for that seat", said Jack Posobiec, a fellow MAGA-ite and Pennsylvania native, describing Lamb as a "Pro-Trump Dem veteran".

Callaway voted for Trump in 2016 because, he said, he wanted change.

"Would I be happy if they banned automatic weapons?"

Of course, Lamb is a Democrat.

Trump campaigned in the district, and Republicans put in the resources and manpower the Saccone campaign lacked. And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced new funding for mine reclamation at a town just outside the district, with Saccone in attendance.

President Donald Trump dominated the district in the 2016 presidential election and offered his backing to Saccone.

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Saccone, a former Air Force counter-intelligence officer, drew criticism toward the end of the campaign by saying that some of his opponents "have a hatred for God".

County election officials are estimating turnout of above 20 percent and potentially above 30 percent in some counties before polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Rick Saccone says that everyone who opposes him is full of hate for the United States. "I think he needs backup".

Besides bruising the president, a Lamb defeat also could shake Republican self-assurance that their new tax law is an omnipotent offense and defense in their midterm matchups.

Blose expressed frustration with what he sees as Democrats picking and choosing which laws to enforce. "I think the real story is the Democratic motivation to win", Schlichter said.

Another political independent, 78-year-old Eugene Galiotto, supported Trump in 2016 and planned to vote for Saccone.

Lamb's loud proclamation that he wouldn't vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader is a thoroughly empty gesture, as he surely knows, because she will be the House Democratic leader again, with or without his vote.

"He's pro-gun, he's pro-tariff, he's pro-Trump, essentially", Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a Monday radio interview. "It's going to be a tight, tight race when you have two people running basically for the same party".

The area covered by the 18th District had been trending Republican for decades.

Republicans have found it harder than expected to mount effective attacks on Lamb's positions on abortion, guns and the national Democratic Party.

In Waynesburg, a fading mining town about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, one registered Republican was still making his choice as he headed into his polling place. "One's a career politician and the other one is looking to make a career out of politics".

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