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Republican rush to avoid upset in special election

Issued: 2018-03-13

CANONSBURG, Pa. — Republicans are rushing to avoid a crushing defeat on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where a Democrat looks poised to win an upset special election victory deep in Trump country six months before the midterm elections.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE’s son, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. praises 'spirit' of poverty-stricken Indians: 'Still a smile on a face' State Dept. says it did not coordinate with Trump Jr. on India speech The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, traveled to the district Monday in an attempt to boost Republican House candidate Rick Saccone, while Democrat Conor Lamb spent the last days before the election rallying the union workers who are seen as key to his victory.

Trump Jr.’s appearance at two Saccone events Monday is indicative of the GOP’s all-out effort to hang on to the district. President Trump held a rally nearby over the weekend, a handful of key administration officials have visited the district in recent weeks and Republican outside groups have dropped more than $10 million into the district.

But the latest polls show Lamb closing in on Saccone — or even passing him. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, but a new Monmouth poll released Monday showed Lamb leading.

Those numbers are stoking concerns among Republicans worried that a loss could shake the GOP ahead of the midterms.

“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.”

Saccone has tied himself tightly to Trump in the final days of the race, a last-minute appeal to Trump voters, including many registered Democrats, who turned out in droves for the president less than two years ago.

Sitting with Saccone at a popular local candy shop, Trump Jr. called for Republicans to react to the recent polls by casting their ballots for Saccone.

“Our guys just can’t take winning for granted, they have to get out there, they have to continue this fight — now, for the rest of ’18, in ’20,” Trump Jr. said over a bowl of ice cream.

“In eight years, we can make a real difference. We just can’t be lazy,” he said.

Lamb held no public events Monday, but he spent Sunday at a rally packed with union members in Greene County.

Lamb and other Democrats are focused on winning back voters the party lost in 2016. Former President Obama nearly won Greene County in 2008, losing it by less than a percentage point, but Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC 'got scammed' into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE lost it by 40 percentage points in 2016.

Now Lamb is looking to thread the needle in the conservative district by running a campaign that sets him apart from national Democrats.

He’s promised to vote against House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLawmakers feel pressure on guns Former Pelosi challenger: I have no 'interest in running for leadership again' Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (D-Calif.) in her next leadership bid. Lamb has bucked calls for additional gun control, and said he’s personally against abortion while supporting a right to choose as policy.

Lamb spoke for just six minutes at the Sunday rally, decrying the flood of GOP outside money into the district and promising coal miners he’d have their backs.

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts spoke at length after Lamb, capturing the crowd with a fiery speech.

“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,” Roberts said.


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