Can Democrats Turn This Red Pennsylvania District Blue?

Voters are heading to the polls today to cast their ballots in the special election between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb, who are running in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district. But because the district will soon be redrawn, the stakes here have little to do with political power and everything to do with symbolism: A Democratic victory could show how the party can appeal to the white working class—and cause Republicans to rethink their midterms strategy.

“If the Republican candidate wins by five points, it’s much ado about nothing,” Republican strategist Mike DeVanney told me. “If Lamb wins, we’re going to have to do some examining of the type of candidates we nominate and the message we bring to voters.”

Media coverage has framed the election as a referendum on President Trump, but, as I reported last week, Lamb has done his best to avoid Trump-bashing. Instead, the former federal prosecutor and Marine has chosen to stress labor issues and the opioid crisis, and taken a relatively conservative stance on guns. Saccone, a current state representative with a formidable resume as a counterintelligence officer in the United States Air Force, has pledged to reel in government spending, and aligned himself closely with the president, once describing himself as “Trump before Trump was Trump.”

The two are vying to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tim Murphy, the district’s longtime Republican representative. Murphy resigned in October after it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair and asked his mistress to get an abortion. The 18th district, which encompasses parts of Allegheny, Washington, Greene, and Westmoreland Counties, has 70,000 more registered Democrats but still tends to elect Republicans: Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton here by 20 points in the 2016 presidential election, and Mitt Romney and John McCain …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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