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Dems Challenge to GOP Tested Tuesday as Voters Head to Polls for PA Special Election

03-13-2018
Republican Rick Saccone, left, has conceded to Democrat Conor Lamb in a special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania

Vice President Mike Pence says Tuesday's special election in a western Pennsylvania House district is "about a whole lot more than the two candidates" on the ballot.

"The only thing at stake is everything," Pence told Fox News' Sean Hannity. He was referring to the race between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

Democrats believe it could be a precursor about their chances of taking control of Congress in the fall midterm elections. They must flip 24 GOP-held seats to claim a House majority.

Pennsylvania Democrats think they can win the district even though President Trump carried it by 20 points in 2016. That's one reason why Trump campaigned there over the weekend for the Republican candidate.

"This guy should win easily, and he's going to win easily. You've got to know, he's an extraordinary person. Go out and vote on Tuesday for Rick Saccone," Trump said.

Polls show a tight race between Saccone and Lamb who has said he doesn't agree with the more liberal wing of his party on many issues.

It has been an expensive race. The Washington Times reported that so far more than $16 million has been spent on political advertising in the last 100 days of the campaign. 

"I think it would have been the seventh most expensive House race in 2016 — and there is more money to come in," Sarah Bryner, research director at the Center for Responsive Politics told the newspaper. "They are just getting completely bombarded by political ads in a short period of time, which goes to show how important it is for the parties to show strength."

Saccone, 60, is a state lawmaker with four decades of experience in the public and private sector, including an Air Force career.

Lamb, 33, is a Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor from an established political family.

Lamb pitches himself as independent-minded, and his varying views have earned him support in the Pittsburgh region. He supports unions and opposes Trump's tax cuts. But he also opposes sweeping gun restrictions, endorses Trump's new steel tariffs, and avoids attacking the president.

"He's a Marine," Bill Kortz, a former steelworker, and a Democratic state lawmaker said. "He's good with guns. He's good with the Second Amendment."

Meanwhile, Saccone is running as close to Trump as possible.

"Do we love our president here in western Pennsylvania? Yeah, we do," Saccone said as he came to the stage this weekend. "I want to thank President Trump. As I said before if President Trump's in your corner, how can you lose? He's the best man anyone could ask to be in their corner."

Many pro-life voters support Saccone. "He shares my values," 64-year-old retiree Barbara DeFelice said Sunday. "I just don't understand that people say we shouldn't put lobsters into hot, boiling water ... but we can kill babies."
    
Other voters are drawn to Saccone purely because he's allied with Trump. "Rick's going to support everything he's doing," engineer Carol Heinecke said.

Associated Press material was used in this story.

CBN News is following this story.  Check back after 8:00 pm as the polls close for continuing coverage. 

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