Under spotlight, special Pa. House race goes to voters

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court a year ago struck down the boundaries of the state's 18th congressional district - where voters decide Tuesday between Republican Rick Saccone or Democrat Conor Lamb - saying the boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.

One potential explanation for the lack of enthusiasm could be Lamb's outspoken criticism of Democrats' congressional leadership, specifically his non-endorsement of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. While Trump defeated 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton there by almost 20 points, recent polls have shown Saccone and Lamb trading leads.

"Saccone backs a lot of President Trump's plans for the country", said Gelb, a 48-year-old fire technician who lives in Mt. Lebanon.

Democratic voter Brian Konick supported Trump in 2016.

He says Democrats are "throwing everything they can at this race" because it's a rare open seat.

That's the remainder of Republican Tim Murphy's term, who resigned previous year over allegations he encouraged his mistress to have an abortion. Statewide in Pennsylvania, a state Trump narrowly won in 2016, his approval rating is now just 42 percent, according to the Gallup poll.

All of this means that Tuesday's hyped-up special election ultimately has no effect on Democrats' efforts to take back the House of Representatives.

Saccone has tried to excite voters by embracing Trump. One of Lamb's official television ads calls him "the only candidate who's said that Democrats and Republicans need new leaders in Congress". Saccone raised US$918,000 through February 21 compared with US$3.9 million for Lamb, Federal Election Commission reports show.

Jonathan Swan of Axios reports that Trump has privately called Saccone "weak" and a White House official complained to me about Saccone's poor fundraising.

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Ironically, in that vote, he positioned himself as slightly more liberal, defeating Westmoreland County commissioner Gina Cerilli who describes herself as a pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-union Democrat.

Nation-wide focus on the district began with Rep. Tim Murphy's (R-Upper St. Clair) resignation after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that he asked a woman he was having an affair with to get an abortion, despite his anti-abortion policies.

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. He resigned last fall. Raising $3.3 million in 2018 alone (five times that of his opponent, who raised $703,000), Lamb has given the GOP a run for their money in a traditionally conservative district.

But the region has doesn't have as many steelworkers as it did in the industry's heydays, even if there's still a cultural association. Open from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m., you can also check where your closest polling location is. Saccone is also a former Air Force Officer and civilian employee with the U.S. Army in Iraq, and highlights a diplomatic mission to North Korea in the early 2000s as one of the high points of his career. That's especially true since Lamb has been clear that he will not vote for Pelosi as leader.

Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday's special election in southwestern Pennsylvania - all for a district that likely won't exist come November due to a state Supreme Court ruling on current district lines.

The Republican Party has been hoping that its massive tax cut would save it from electoral doom this fall - but it seems that the GOP has completely given up on touting the tax cut in the final weeks of the special congressional election in Pennsylvania.

Trump signs a presidential proclamation on tariffs at the White House in March.

President Donald Trump dominated the district in 2016 and has offered his backing to Saccone.

The victor replaces Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned in October amid a sex scandal.

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