By Nathaniel Valyo, National News Writer
“It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it. You did it,” declared Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate for the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, in the wee hours of Wednesday, March 14.
The race was razor-tight, with Mr. Lamb leading by 641 ballots with 100 percent of the precincts tallied, according to The Associated Press. The long day for both parties carried into the early hours of Wednesday morning, and although absentee ballots are still being waited on, Mr. Lamb and the Democratic Party are confident enough that Republican candidate Rick Saccone will not be able to pass Mr. Lamb. “We followed what I learned in the Marines — leave no one behind. We went everywhere, we talked to everyone, we invited everyone in.” said Lamb in his victory-claiming speech.
Mr. Saccone has yet to concede, and is considering a potential lawsuit or recount immediately following the official tally. “We are going to fight all the way to the end … we are not giving up,” said Mr. Saccone to his supporters early Wednesday morning.
“We like where we are … in a race nobody gave us a chance to even be close in,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at the Lamb campaign watch party. “Let’s keep up the faith and let’s keep going.” Lamb won 57 percent of the vote in Allegheny County, the largest county in the district.
Pennsylvania’s 18th District has long been considered an easy win for Republicans, with President Donald Trump winning the district by 20 points in his 2016 presidential campaign. The district has a history of voting so strongly Republican that Democrats have failed to even field a candidate in the past two congressional elections. The seat was originally held by Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last year after allegedly urging a woman he was having an affair with to have an abortion.
Mr. Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor, ran a moderate campaign, while Mr. Saccone chose to link himself closely to President Trump, even vowing to be his “wingman” in Washington. Mr. Lamb claimed that he is opposed to his party’s stances on gun control, and that he is personally against abortion—even though he stated that he would support abortion rights in office. He also claimed that he would vote against Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic Leader, neutralizing a popular Republican attack to link the Democratic candidate to a well-known liberal politician like Pelosi.
Republican leaders fear that the closeness of the race is already spelling fear for the Republican Party, regardless of the official results. “By all the rules, by all the metrics, Democrats should not be competing in a district that gave Donald Trump a 20-point advantage,” said former Democratic Representative Steve Israel of New York. “But in this environment you can throw out all the rules, throw out all the metrics because this district tells us that there is a strange brew sweeping over the country.” Republican donors spent over $10 million on Saccone to keep the race close.
“We probably should have spent more money defining Rick Saccone, not Conor Lamb” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers. “The voters didn’t have a good enough image of our candidate.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 20th print edition.
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