On March 13, Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district held a special election to fill the seat of former Representative Tim Murphy (R), after he resigned last October. Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, resigned after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obtained and released text messages allegedly showing that he coerced a woman he engaged in an extramarital affair with to get an abortion.
Democrat Conor Lamb claimed victory against Republican Rick Saccone by just over 600 votes, a result that many would never predict for this deeply conservative district.
Not only did President Trump win the district by almost 20 points in the 2016 presidential election, but it’s strong Republican tendencies have kept Democrats from fielding any candidates at all in recent years.
Lamb, a Catholic American attorney who previously served as a federal prosecutor as well a captain in the United States Marine Corps, gained a lot of attention because of his appeal to voters in such a traditionally conservative district.
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Many attribute the appeal to his “old-school Democrat” values, which TIME described as his vocal support for blue-collar labor and the unions that support it as well as his lack of involvement in the social politics that have recently dominated the Democratic Party’s narrative.
Runner-up Republican Candidate Rick Saccone, an American attorney who previously served as a United States Air Force officer and a civilian employee of the U.S. Army during the Iraq War gained attention for referring to himself as “Trump before Trump was Trump.”
John Gomez, President of UD College Republicans, spoke to Flyer News about whether or not Saccone’s positions adequately represented the ideals of today’s young Republicans.
“In many ways, Saccone represented standard Republican beliefs especially in terms of economic policy,” said Gomez. “Likewise, Saccone repeatedly defended Roy Moore from his accusations of pedophilia during his run for Senate in Alabama which would not sit well with many young people and young Republicans.”
Gomez went on to discuss what he believes Saccone’s loss means for the Republican party as a whole. “The Republican Party needs to find a way to adequately rally its voters for the 2018 midterm year,” said Gomez. “Republican candidates and voters cannot take 2018 lightly and this should be their wakeup call.”
Katherine Liming, member of UD Vote Everywhere, a group on that focuses on encouraging UD students to register and vote, spoke to Flyer News about the results of the special election showing how important it is for young people to exercise their right to vote.
“Conor Lamb won by a couple hundred votes. What if some of those people had stayed in?” said Liming. “It is always important to go and vote and have your voice heard, but in these midterm elections, young people are going to be a powerful voting group because I think we all have a stake in how these elections turnout. It’s too important not to turn out.”
Photo courtesy of Splinter News.