Pennsylvania special election: Saccone touts economy as Lamb spends millions

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Republican Rick Saccone, center, is surrounded by cameras and reporters as he heads to the polling place to cast his ballot, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in McKeesport, Pa. Saccone is running against Democrat Conor Lamb in a special election being held for the PA 18th Congressional District vacated by Republican Tim Murphy. The race will have national implications, even if court-ordered redistricting means the seat won't exist by the time the victor runs for re-election in November.

For the weeks of February 4 and February 11, roughly two-thirds of the broadcast television ads from Saccone's campaign, the super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee mentioned taxes, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from Advertising Analytics.

"He's going to vote the party line".

And yet, the race has been anything but easy.

Besides bruising the president, a Lamb defeat also could shake Republican self-assurance that their new tax law can shield them from other political woes.

Trump, at least, is accepting the premise that he is the biggest factor in the election.

But the candidates themselves created a race that may not be easily duplicated around the country.

In four polls taken in the district this month, Lamb led in three of them, though the spread in all four was within the margin of error. Frequently clad in jeans and beat-up work boots at campaign events, he talked about the economy and jobs, focusing his outreach on veterans and union members. Right Wing Watch calls him "a Trumpist with a Christian nationalist bent". But it's equally possible that the loser could run in any of the re-drawn districts as well, meaning that come November, Lamb and Saccone could both very will wind up in Congress.

If Connor Lamb beats Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania tonight, it will not be a Democrat beating a Republican.

Biden, a few days earlier, in race that has become a battle to win over white, blue-collar laborers, told a group of union workers: "You said you want your piece of the sidewalk".

"I've talked to so many of these on the left, and they have a hatred for our president".

Lamb also proved to be a formidable fundraiser, with supporters giving almost $4 million. Lamb's $3.3 million in fundraising dwarfs Saccone's $700,000, one factor in some Republicans, including Trump, reportedly calling their candidate "weak".

Meanwhile, Clinton was in India promoting her book, "What Happened", going after Trump and his voters much as she did in her campaign and after her Electoral College loss. And the Republican Party and conservative groups are backing up trucks of cash to Saccone.

For some voters, that was enough.

In a final-hours message on Fox Business Network, Saccone said that he's ready and willing to help Trump. In an attempt, perhaps, to turn things around in a single House race that might embarrass him, the president announced plans to impose steel and aluminum tariffs, hoping that will play well in traditional steel country and to his broader base.

Theresa Jacobs, a 51-year-old school bus driver from Boston, Pa., liked that Saccone had a record in Harrisburg she could look at.

For his part, Saccone issued a statement in response to Parkland that was devoid of any mention about guns - and repeated numerous NRA's talking points. "I got to win strong", he said.

But Republicans anxious they may still might not be able to keep the seat red. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign. "I won this district by 22 points".

The victory Tuesday will be short-lived, however.

THE DISTRICT WILL LIKELY DISAPPEAR: If you thought $12 million being spent by outside groups on one special election race that won't immediately change the power dynamics on Capitol Hill was insane, consider this: The district will likely disappear in November. Come next January, the 18th District will disappear, divided between the heavily red 14th District and the more purple 17th. Lamb will reside in the state's newly competitive 17th district, now held by a Republican.

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