Race between Conor Lamb, Rick Saccone cost $16 million so far

Sergio Conner
March 13, 2018

Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate in the special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, reportedly accused the Democratic party of being galvanized by "hatred for our country" and "hatred for God", during a rally in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania on Monday.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, photo, Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for the March 13 special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, talks about his campaign at his headquarters in Mount Lebanon.

Lamb winning would be "egg on the face of the president" and "a really big deal", said Philip Harold, a political scientist at Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh.

"I need people who can help me".

The district - whose previous congressman, Republican Tim Murphy, resigned after a personal scandal - is under the microscope.

Even a narrow win by Saccone would underscore challenges for Republicans, who've labored to win races in Republican-friendly areas since Trump became president.

"When added to a potential Democratic surge that has been building for weeks, Lamb appears to have picked off enough Republican-leaning voters to take a lead going into this contest's final weekend", said Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray.

Public polls show a statistical tie between Lamb and Saccone, according to RealClearPolitics and Talking Points Memo.

"One of the reasons people don't vote is that they're not aware of the election", Kimball said. Even some working-class men who voted for Trump have decided that was a mistake.

The White House has also dispatched Vice President Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr.to stump in the district. Because, as always, an endorsement of Donald Trump is nothing but an endorsement of himself.

Thompson admits "turnout is everything" and he is optimistic that voters will show the same enthusiasm for Saccone as they did for President Trump during Saturday's rally.

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"He supports small business owners and would do anything for you to make sure that your business is successful", said Stephanie Squibb, 48, of Elizabeth, who owns a local printing company.

The pro-Saccone/anti-Lamb spending includes more than $3.5 million from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, and more than $3.3 million from Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-political action committee linked to House Republican leaders. One percent of voters polled support a third-party candidate, while three percent remain undecided. But Saccone has struggled with his own fundraising, is a union foe and hasn't run as aggressive a campaign as Lamb, prompting criticism from Republicans in Washington who quietly concede Lamb is a stronger candidate.

"The tax cuts are helping them expand, giving them a little boost", said Saccone.

His campaign claims to have reached more than 100,000 households with pledges to protect union jobs and pensions along with Medicare and Social Security programs for the elderly that account for almost one out of every five local residents. Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters. She dismissed Lamb with the nickname the president had given him on Saturday night: "Lamb the Sham".

And, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, Lamb called for tougher background checks but not stricter gun laws.

The hullabaloo over the election is particularly interesting considering the district itself will soon disappear because of a court mandate that Pennsylvania redraw its congressional maps after years of Republican gerrymandering.

Republicans have suffered major losses during Trump's presidency, including a blowout in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a loss in Alabama's Senate race.

Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to gain House control in November. Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District has an estimated 17,000 steelworkers and nearly 90,000 voters from union households.

Tuesday's election has little bearing on the current balance of power in the House.

Despite the barrage of attack ads, Lamb's negatives haven't ticked up significantly over the past few weeks, according to the poll.

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