Conor Lamb Holds Narrow Lead Over Rick Saccone in PA's District 18 Congressional Race

In a closely watched race for PA’s 18th District Congressional seat, Democrat Conor Lamb has a 627 vote advantage over Republican Rick Saccone as of this afternoon with all absentee and polling ballots counted. Some provisional and military ballots must be counted which won’t be final until next week. However, there may not be enough of them to make a difference in the total.
For now, Lamb has declared victory while Saccone has not conceded. Republican leaders outside of the district are leveling blame at Saccone. According to the Washington Post, Corry Bliss of the Congressional Leadership Fund called Saccone a “joke.” In my view, the joke is on Bliss. His group ran expensive false and negative ads in the district. For instance, a series of ads claimed Lamb was a follower of Nancy Pelosi. To the contrary, Lamb does not support Pelosi and has argued for new leadership in the party. If anything, those ads may have alienated suburban Republican voters and pushed them toward Lamb who ran a positive and issues oriented campaign.

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While Saccone’s judgment is open to question (he thinks David Barton is a fine historian), his Republican record and resume are consistent with Trumpian populism. He has been a state legislator, has years of foreign service (even if embellished), and thinks Trump walks on water. In my opinion, all of the complaining about “candidate quality” is an effort to put the best face on what must be a very frightening prospect for Republicans running in 2018. There are numerous districts around the nation where GOP representatives are more vulnerable than the GOP slot was in PA’s District 18.
While a recount is not mandatory in a close House election, Saccone’s team has not ruled out the potential of legal maneuvers to hold up the declaration of a Lamb victory. The outcome might not be official until the legal challenges are exhausted.