"Good Bio, Poor Candidate" - Republican Strategists Trash Saccone As PA Voters Head To Polls

For an election in a district that won't exist in a few months, pundits are claiming that the outcome of Tuesday's special election in Pennsylvania's seventeenth district could be a harbinger of the November midterms.

As Politico explains, the traditionally blue-collar district in Southwestern Pennsylvania is "ancestrally Democratic" - the party has a six-point voter registration advantage thanks to the coal mines and steelworks that dot Allegheny County and the surrounding area. But over the past decade, it's turned Republican. President Trump carried district by a massive 20-point margin, and Mitt Romney carried it by 12 points in 2012.

However, Republican candidate Rick Saccone, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, has been panned by pundits aligned with his own party as a weak candidate whose lackluster local fundraising efforts have been subsidized by a flood of outside money into the race - roughly $10 million. President Trump has visited the district twice - including a Saturday night rally where he unveiled his 2020 campaign slogan, "Keep America Great".

Other members of the Trump administration, including Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr., have tried to whip up votes for Saccone.


Rick Saccone

But Democrat Connor Lamb, who has pitched himself as a centrist who personally opposes abortion and post-Parkland gun control legislation, is benefiting from his relative youth (he's 33), his military background (he's a former Marine) and his family's history (Lamb's father was the local Democratic party head during the 1970s, and one of his uncles is the City Comptroller in Pittsburgh. The national party didn't contribute much to the race: Within the district, Lamb managed to outraise Saccone by five-to-one.

According to CNN, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $3.5 million. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, spent $3.3 million. The Republican National Committee chipped in $1.1 million and ran an expansive get-out-the-vote operation, while the Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action spent $1 million.

Democrats, meanwhile, spent relatively little: Patriot Majority PAC spent $450,000 and Vote Vets spent $344,000. Several other groups spent smaller amounts, largely on digital advertising. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $260,000 on television advertising.

According to the latest polls, Lamb has a slight lead over Saccone:


...And if Democratic turnout is high, that lead could swell to six points.

Per the Hill, local Republican pundits are already losing hope...

"I have a very, very bad feeling in my gut about this one. I don’t think this is going to go well for Saccone," said one Pennsylvania Republican strategist who asked for anonymity to give a candid impression of the race. "At some point, I saw [Saccone] as a guy in a rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic. They were rowing like hell, but they weren’t making any headway."

Meanwhile, union leaders in the district who supported Trump in 2016 are now backing Lamb:

"The Bible tells us someday we are all going to be judged by how we treat the least of these, and the labor movement and the Democratic Party are about treating the least of these with respect and dignity and lifting them up," said United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts.

"Let me try to explain to you what kind of folks we are and what kind of Democrat Conor is. He’s a God-fearing, union-supporting, gun-owning, job-protecting, pension-defending, Social Security-believing, health-care-creating and sending-drug-dealers-to-jail Democrat!"

While Democrats will unquestionably tout a Lamb victory as a harbinger of victories to come in November, some Republican strategists have insisted that Saccone's candidacy was flawed in ways that wouldn't apply to the broader election map.

One Republican member of Congress told The Hill that while Saccone "has a good bio, he’s just not a good candidate."

And regardless of who wins the seat, they will be forced to run another campaign in November. And unless the Supreme Court steps in with a legal challenge, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court has implemented a new congressional map for the 2018 cycle that completely changes the district lines.


Connor Lamb

Saccone is already circulating petitions to run in a more conservative new district in the southern portion of the state, according to The Inquirer in Philadelphia. Lamb hasn't said which district he'd mount his bid in.

Trump reportedly views Saccone as a weak candidate, but he traveled to the district in the hopes that his decision to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum would help energize the base to turn out for Saccone.

As Trump pointed out on Saturday, there were "a lot of red hats" in the crowd at Trump's rally. "The world is watching," Trump said Saturday. 

Another Republican loss would compound problems for Trump, who has presided over a loss in Alabama's special election and a blowout in the Virginia governor's race.

The vote will also be the first political test of Trump's tax reform plan, which polls show is growing increasingly popular with voters.

The vote was triggered when anti-abortion incumbent Tim Murphy resigned following reports that he pushed a woman with whom he had an affair to get an abortion. Polls in the area close at 8 pm, local time.


Joe Davola ???ö? Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:30 Permalink

No way I believe those spending numbers for the Democrats.  They, or their surrogates, starting running TV advertisements the day after the general election last fall and it seems the Lamb commercials run twice as frequently - and the "Not One Penny" radio spots are on all the time.  I know, radio is cheap - but if those don't count as Democratic advertisement, the comparison of spending is invalid.

And someone was paying for the electronic billboards that read "Abortion, it's not just for mistresses" that showed up last fall.

In reply to by ???ö?

HopefulCynical Joe Davola Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:10 Permalink

It's not GOP stupidity - It's. Sabotage.

The GOPe is still trying to lose the House in the midterms, so that Trump can be impeached by the Dems, RINO Senators like McStain will vote to convict without raising obvious red flags, and that sweet sweet (((cash))) can continue to line their pockets.

You watch.

(And I still think Pence is up to his eyebrows in orchestrating all of it.)

That's a big part of what Trump's firings are all about. He's taking the fight to the swamp ratz.

In reply to by Joe Davola

TheAntiProgressive HopefulCynical Tue, 03/13/2018 - 22:33 Permalink

The PA RNC leaders are the absolute worst.  Bunch of 1st Class Rinos everyone of them.  The funding to the elected Rinos is all from the unions and the utilities.  PA is consistently ranked one of the most corrupt states in the country.  The "conservative" RNC and their candidates counldn't message their way out of a paper bag.  My own representative still "believes" in global warming and was recently seen publicly trying to change the much abused term of "assault rifle" to the more liberal term "assault weapon".  I think a spoon might fit that new invented "term".  These people are all simply Democrats with an R after their name.  It really doesn't matter who wins.

In reply to by HopefulCynical

Honest Sam Juggernaut x2 Tue, 03/13/2018 - 17:30 Permalink

You're as much of an intelligent Juggernaut as those GED kids on the short bus that are delivered to our Community Colleges for after 5:00 p.m. first grade classes.

How can anyone vote for a guy like that with a nearly invisible grey mustache that looks like pastings from his hair cut?  He is as pathetic a candidate as hillary clinton.

Lamb is no better but if this is the best the republicans in PA are going to do then they deserve unceremonious defeat, well-earned. 

Thank heaven for being Independent.

In reply to by Juggernaut x2

booboo Potato Farmer Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:37 Permalink

So Conner is a 60's style democrat and the progs are cheering because he has a D in front of his name, I guess they will take anything at this point, even a Blue Dog Democrat. "

"Does he believe in 50 shades of genders?"

"no but he has a D in front of his name"

"That will do for now, we will get pictures of him fucking a blond at the Watergate and then we can work that into his fabric, muha..muhhahaha...muhahahahahahahaha"

In reply to by Potato Farmer

just the tip booboo Tue, 03/13/2018 - 15:33 Permalink

he is in fact a 60s democrat.  that's when all this horseshit took traction.  he's a dem.  he will walk lock step with them after he gets in.  we have a dickhead representative from oklahoma, mullin, he's a republican.  sounded just like this lamb mother fucker.  our redheaded stepchild lankford, sounded just like this lamb fucker.  they get to washington and have more in common with pelosi than any of us here in F/O country.  and don't get me started on the fucking unions.  they are so stupid they will vote themselves out of a job before they do the right thing.  this lamb fucker will say all the right things and the unions will take it up the ass, and blame the republicans.

In reply to by booboo

Ace006 just the tip Wed, 03/14/2018 - 01:45 Permalink

What happened to American unions? Manufacturers fled to China (China? WTF?) in droves and foreigners flooded in to steal jobs and drive wages down. Yet complete silence from the unions.

Were there five minutes in this election contest where this was even mentioned?

Just what important issue was decided by this election? Or is it just stupid R v D stuff and the next 10 minutes of the news cycle with wall-to-wall babes at Fox and snark queens and buffoons elsewhere? Why does it take millions of dollars to just stay in the race?

In reply to by just the tip

j0nx Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:13 Permalink

A lazy out of touch old guy who couldn't be bothered to campaign and a young hip liberal who as soon as he wins will kiss the finger of Pelosi and fall right in line with the radical left. Quite the choice there PA.

Peak Finance Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:20 Permalink

So, whats the "REAL" story here?

Establishment repubs which control the NE, who in reality are just liberals that want lower taxes and agree on EVERYTHING else, control the NE party faction with an iron fist.

They don't like the Trump-like leading candidate and are cutting him off at the knees. No funding, not letting him use their organization, not getting him the talent he needs to succeed. 


TheObsoleteMan Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:27 Permalink

What a scum bag lying piece of shit this Connor Lamb is. First off, you can't be a democrat and support the Second Ammendment. You can't be a democrat and be pro-life. You can't be a democrat and not be anti-traditional family, and pro the Queer agenda. You can't be a democrat and not be a communist and statist. If the people of Pennsylvania are stupid enough to elect Mr.Lamb, then they get what they deserve. Being a veteran doesn't mean what it used to mean. Today it means that you have served a government that has no qualms about going into foreign lands that have not asked you to be there, and slaughtered people who pose no threat to the USA. If you doubt this, just do a search of the word: "My Lai".

Dumpster Elite Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:28 Permalink

Hey, the Lamb kid doesn't sound all that bad for a Dem...of course, once he wins, Nancy will have a "chat" with him, and every campaign stance he had will immediately go out the window, and amazingly, his NEW main concerns will be transgender rights, illegal alien rights, getting rid of the 2nd Amendment, ending fossil fuel production, silencing "evil white males", and he will tell the world that he is undergoing "reassignment" surgery at the end of the year, and wishes to be called "Corrine" from now on.

Blano Tue, 03/13/2018 - 13:33 Permalink

"But Democrat Connor Lamb, who has pitched himself as a centrist who personally opposes abortion and post-Parkland gun control legislation....."

One of the rules I now live by is, always assume a Democrat is lying until you can prove otherwise.

He might personally oppose abortion, but he'll vote right along with the scum. Bank it.

Unwashed Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:00 Permalink

Conor Lamb's grandfather was head of the Dem party in the 1970s, not his father.


Saccone is not a great candidate, but the moronic ads being run by the DC-based Republican PACs are killing him. I've talked to Republican canvassers and each has told me they have received similar complaints from other Republican voters. The ads make fun of Lamb's name and claim a vote for Lamb is a vote for Pelosi. 


In my neighborhood, which voted Trump 65-35, the Lamb lawn signs outnumber the Saccone 70-30. Lousy candidate made worse by arrogant assholes in DC shoving a moronic story line.

Wide-Eyed and … Unwashed Tue, 03/13/2018 - 15:14 Permalink

+1000. That exactly.  The ads for Saccone not only killed him but they are a slap in the face of the Republican base who voted for Trump.  I am not in that district, but unfortunately have been inundated by the tv ads any way. The commercials for Lamb show an inoffensive young man speaking directly and succinctly about his values, his beliefs and what he hopes to accomplish. Saccone's ads, on the other hand, are obviously composed from focus groups and are basically slams of Lamb and his suspected support of Pelosi.  No talk of Saccone's accomplishments in office, no mention of his goals or beliefs.  One of the early ads informed us that Mr. Saccone had served in the military so he knew how to "keep us safe". The ad didn't elaborate on who Mr. Saccone was going to keep us safe from. Instead of having Saccone just look in to the camera and say, "Here I am. Here's what I have done in office and here's what I will work toward if I win this election.", the Pacs just roll out the same old failed ad policy. Either they learned nothing from the past presidential election or they are making it obvious that they still don't care what conservative voters want. If Republican candidates get slammed at the polls, it has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the pathetic and out-of-step Republican party and Pacs.

In reply to by Unwashed

HuskerGirl Tue, 03/13/2018 - 14:29 Permalink

"The Bible tells us someday we are all going to be judged by how we treat the least of these, and the labor movement and the Democratic Party are about treating the least of these with respect and dignity and lifting them up," 


This made me laugh out loud.  

Drop-Hammer Tue, 03/13/2018 - 17:02 Permalink

The old guy, Saccone, is not charismatic and has been in office a long time.  People are tired of entrenched establishment guys.  President Trump's only flaw is that he is an Alpha Lion whose charisma has electrified our country and the world.  He has set a high bar for men to be seen as 'action figures' and the quiet, reserved milquetoast is going to be passe.  That Pennsylvania district will go for the bright, shiny, young guy.