Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Voters Head To Polls To Decide 18th Congressional District Special Election

H4 trump signs steel tariffs Will lack of Democratic outside spending cost Lamb an upset?
| 14 March, 2018, 00:50

The fight between state Rep. Rick Saccone (R) and veteran Conor Lamb (D) was never expected to be close given that President Donald Trump won the 18th District by 20 points in 2016.

In a final-hours message on Fox Business Network, Saccone said that he's ready and willing to help Trump.

That flood of national money and volunteers concludes today, as voters in the district - which stretches from Pittsburgh's southern suburbs south and west to the state's borders with OH and West Virginia - head to the polls.

Republicans have outspent Democrats in the special election by a 3-to-1 margin.

Trump putting himself out there, throwing his weight behind another Republican candidate in Saccone is still a big deal, especially for the president himself.

If Pelosi felt threatened by Lamb's call for new leadership, it would stand to reason that she might not be willing to throw the full support of her powerful political machine behind him - even in a race widely considered to be a bellwether for the midterms. Trump said in a Twitter posting on Tuesday morning.

Could a Democrat, Conor Lamb (right), win in deep Trump country?

Meanwhile, Democrats' opted for a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor who hails from a well-established political family in Allegheny County. Statewide in Pennsylvania, a state Trump narrowly won in 2016, his approval rating is now just 42 percent, according to the Gallup poll.

Once again, those who religiously follow American politics will be watching a special election Tuesday for signs that Democrats could be headed toward a wave election this fall. The president campaigned for Saccone, a state representative, Monday and Donald Trump Jr., remained at his side as he tried to close the deal with recent polls showing him trailing.

The president has campaigned in the district twice and sent several tweets on Saccone's behalf. Saccone raised US$918,000 through February 21 compared with US$3.9 million for Lamb, Federal Election Commission reports show. Trump had appeared at a rally for Saccone over the weekend.


The proposed reforms are a far cry from the sweeping changes Trump promoted last month in the weeks following the shooting, when he repeatedly called to raise the age of purchase for a rifle to 21 and castigated Republican lawmakers for being "afraid of the NRA". He resigned last fall.

Cillizza: National conservative groups have run a slew of ads trying to link Lamb to Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats must flip 24 GOP-held seats to reclaim a House majority, and no one was counting on this Pittsburgh-area district that Trump won by 20 percentage points in the presidential race to be in play.

Just a year ago, Democrat Doug Jones was propelled to an Alabama special election victory over Republican Roy Moore when more than $10 million of outside money went to supporting Jones and opposing Moore, compared to under $3.3 million spent supporting Moore and opposing Jones.

He did it as national Republican groups filled airwaves and social media with depictions of the first-time candidate as little more than a lemming for Nancy Pelosi - the California Democrat, House minority leader and GOP punching bag. President Trump handily beat out Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 18th district back in 2016 on his way to capturing the Keystone State and subsequently the White House.

Polls in the district are open from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m. EDT.

Even if Saccone, a state legislator, prevails, it would demonstrate that Democrats are competitive in places they hadn't been before and force the GOP to spend time and money defending what had been safe Congressional seats as they try to hold on to their House majority in November.

THE BLAME GAME: If Republicans lose tonight, they will call Saccone a poor candidate who couldn't fundraise and didn't define himself early enough.

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

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