The Thinker: Rich Galen


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PA-18 (Part 2)

Rich Galen

Wednesday March 14, 2017

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  • Landslide Conor Lamb, they'll call him.

  • Congressman Landslide Conor Lamb.

  • Conor Lamb (D) won the special election in Southwestern Pennsylvania yesterday by the staggering amount of 627 votes.

  • That close.

  • Many trees (or their digital equivalent) will be sacrificed by geniuses like me telling lay-people like you what happened, how it happened, and what will happen next.

  • Here's my shorthand:
    The Democrat (Conor Lamb) won by a whisker in a district that has been SO Republican that a Democrat has not even filed to run in it the last two times.

    Two years ago, the GOP candidate Tim Murphy, running unopposed, drew about 294,000 votes. It was a Presidential year.

    In this election, a special to fill Murphy's vacant seat, the two candidates drew about 222,000 votes. That's a lot for a special in the mid-term year.

    The Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, was plodding, uninspiring, didn't raise much money nor engender enthusiasm.

    However, Republican outside organizations, on behalf of Saccone, poured about $10 million into the race.

    Because of a court-ordered redistricting, this district will disappear, thus this race was for nothing but bragging rights.

    House Democrats will brag. Bigly.

  • Donald Trump is now oh-for-three in trying to drag a Republican candidate over the line. He campaigned for Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate Primary. When Strange lost to Roy Moore, Trump went in to campaign for him, only to see Moore lose, too.

  • This past Saturday night, Trump blew into the District to campaign for Saccone and, while it is likely the race would not have been as close without Trump's visit, it wasn't enough. Trump gets credit for trying but, as he might say himself (but not about himself, only winning counts.

  • Saying Trump got Saccone close is like saying your college team lost in the NCAA basketball tournament by just two points in overtime.

  • You don't have to beat the point-spread. You only have to beat the other team to move on.

  • The Democrats will take legitimate comfort in Conor Lamb's victory. It will probably mean a better grade of candidate will look at the situation and say, "Huh. Maybe this is the year."

  • That's the good news.

  • The bad news is, first it is not likely there are 100 more Conor Lambs out there.

  • Second, it is likely that in some districts - maybe many districts - where the Ds had already chosen a candidate another one, two, or three might suddenly decide do jump in on the "Huh. Maybe this is the year," theory creating messy primaries where none would have existed before last night.

  • On the R side, as you have heard 2,725 times already today, this will likely lead to more Republican retirements. These will likely not only come from Republican Members who just aren't ready for a fight-to-the-death in November, but might also come from some of the most senior Members who have been sub-committee chairs, patiently waiting for a full-committee chairmanship to open up.

  • Looking toward next January, if Democrats do take control, the best they can hope for is to be the "Ranking Member" - Hill-code for the senior member of a committee on the minority side.

  • Not bad, but not chairman.

  • Also, as we noted, Republican entities dumped about $10 million into Saccone's race. As flush as the GOP is with cash, it I not likely they've got that kind of dough available to do it for the next 100 races.

  • A billion here and a billion there might not be what it used to be, but it is still a lot. Real money, if you catch my drift.

  • And that doesn't even account for donors saying, "If it's going to be that kind if year, maybe I'll just wait until 2020 when the environment for Republicans might be better."

  • It is true Saccone was not a very good candidate. But, it is also true that the Republican establishment (including Donald Trump) made sure everyone knew that they knew he was a bad candidate.

  • Thus, Saccone's close loss became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  • Much, alas, as the predictions of a Democrat take-over of control of the U.S. House may be.

  • Pennsylvania 18, as a Congressional District, might disappear this Fall, but its significance will echo through the rest of Trump's term.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to's coverage of the race.

    The Mullfoto is another food truck naming fail in downtown Washington, DC.

-- END --

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