March came in like a lion and went out with a Lamb, and poor Paul Ryan is beside himself trying to minimize Conor Lamb’s PA-18 win and, if you can believe this, glorify Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania rally as having been a Republican salvation. Ryan said, “The public polling wasn’t looking so good, and the President came in and helped close this race to where it is now, which is within a few hundred votes.” Talking Points Memo:
“This is something you’re not going to see repeated,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) insisted on Wednesday, moments after he reportedly told his caucus behind closed doors that the flipped seat was a “wakeup call” for Republicans.
Ryan told reporters that Democrat Conor Lamb “ran as a pro-gun, pro-life, anti-Nancy Pelosi conservative.” He did not mention that Lamb also ran a staunchly pro-union, pro-Obamacare and anti-GOP tax bill race, or that Lamb has said publicly that he will not vote for abortion restrictions favored by Republicans.
Ryan also claimed that “there are more Democrats in that district than Republicans,” though President Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016. Though the race has been viewed by both parties as a brutal referendum on Trump’s presidency and a sign of building Democratic enthusiasm ahead of November’s midterm elections, where many far more purple districts will be contested, Ryan insisted that Trump did not negatively impact the special election.
Of course the Republicans are rattling sabers and not conceding defeat. Politico:
...the National Republican Congressional Committee says it is "ready to ensure that every legal vote is counted," said Matt Gorman, the NRCC communications director. "Once they are, we’re confident Rick Saccone will be the newest Republican member of Congress."
Saccone's hope of catching Lamb faded early Wednesday morning, as the all four counties that make up the district counted absentee ballots. The current vote count includes more than 3,000 absentee ballots from Allegheny County, the most Democratic-leaning of the four counties that make up the district, and 1,808 from Westmoreland County, a Republican-leaning county. Lamb carried Allegheny County, 57 percent to 42 percent. Saccone won Westmoreland County by a similar margin, 57 percent to 42 percent.
Lamb should hold on to his narrow lead and be officially declared the winner, but if for some reason he doesn’t, there will be another election in redistricted Pennsylvania next year. He’s got a message that works and he’s got the ability to communicate it. Lamb is an outstanding candidate in a red state, much like Jason Kander in Missouri, who narrowly lost to incumbent Roy Blunt in the 2016 senate race.
For Donald Trump to have won this district by 20 points and for an up and coming young Democrat to win the House seat 14 months later is nothing short of a stunning reversal given the way politics usually works. Let’s hope that this is a sign of a beautiful blue wave in November. Maybe we can outdo 2006, where Democrats picked up 34 House seats.
The Republicans are embarrassed, and with good reason, and the spinning will continue as they become more and more aware of how toxic Donald Trump really is. Fox News is already spinning this as a Republican victory because “it wasn’t a blow out and Democrats should be scared.” Right. This year is going to be very interesting.
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