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Pennsylvania election to be a test of pre-midterm Democratic appeal

13 Mars 2018

Armand Castelli, a 58-year-old insurance agent from Pittsburgh, gave Democrat Lamb credit for having "a fairly decent resume", but suggested it would not be enough to upset Saccone, or to trigger a national political shift.

Like most local candidates everywhere today, Lamb and Saccone are mere surrogates for national partisan interests rather than advocates for a clearly defined local constituency.

"He's Conor the chameleon". "His issue set is so orthodox", one Republican consultant tells Jay Cost for National Review, "that it looks like he thinks his constituency is the Heritage Foundation break room". We have to have him.

Asked if he would support the Miners Pension Act - a reason cited by the United Mine Workers union in their endorsement of Lamb - he turned back to his own ice cream.

Democrats, meanwhile, spent relatively little: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pumped $312,000 into the race, while the Rep. Seth Moulton-aligned Patriot Majority PAC spent $450,000 and Vote Vets spent $344,000.

Following the successful teachers' strike in neighboring West Virginia, many union members say that there is a new sense of enthusiasm for organized labor in the coal fields.

However, things seem different in the Allegheny County portion of the district.

Delano: "Are you anxious that Republicans aren't going to turn out to vote tomorrow?"

TRUMP: Then I get up in the morning. Many of them are not terribly interested in identity politics or transgender rights or the fate of undocumented immigrants they believe pose a threat to what few economic opportunities might be left for them and their children.

Saccone's campaign had not scheduled a press availability before or after the tour. Getting my second wind.

Such is the significance of this race that Mr Trump himself stumped on Saturday for Mr Saccone in District 18.

"They say the other side is energized".

That agenda is, of course, the President's agenda.

Trump won the district, in southwest Pennsylvania, by almost 20 points in 2016. But this special election is shaping up to be much closer. It's an important thing to make sure that our people realize that we are supporting this.

"Just because my father's not on the ticket, they have to show up and vote", he said.

That was in part because the party is gearing up for dozens of races in districts with a recent history of voting more Democratic in presidential races this fall - and in part because they didn't need to spend money to back Lamb. Lamb has a 53 favorable 33 unfavorable rating, versus Saccone's 47-43 favorable-unfavorable rating.

The 60-year-old Air Force veteran turned state lawmaker and college instructor enjoys enthusiastic backing from social conservatives who've anchored his state career, and he's perhaps at his most animated when he touts his opposition to abortion rights. He avoids criticizing President Donald Trump and says Democrats' congressional leaders should be replaced.

James Johnson, 42, had a one-word reason for why he planned to vote for Saccone: "Republican".

"God knows, if it's going to make it hard for Trump, the media's going to be all over it", said Trump. Lamb, 33, a former assistant US attorney, also supports student loan reform. "They've gotta get out and vote, and if they get out and vote, we win easily". They forget about all that. Strategists for both parties call him the favorite to win. I don't think it is. The people who toiled in the mines and mills that once thrived here worked like dogs but they were rewarded with a slice of the pie; their children, not so much. "This isn't on the forefront of everyone's mind, but they have to realize it because they have to realize that anyone going in there, they're going to do what all the other Democrats have done".

Frank Snyder, general secretary of Pennsylvania's AFL-CIO, challenged reporters at Lamb's rally yesterday to follow the rental cars of Republican operatives who have come to the district to turn out voters.

Lamb mostly stayed away from the cameras Monday, spending his final day knocking on doors in suburbs and small towns outside Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania election to be a test of pre-midterm Democratic appeal