It’s been as weird a year as they come in politics, but plenty of bizarre stories still managed to fly under the radar. Join us as we revisit some of the wackier tales of down-ballot shenanigans that are simply too good to let go. This piece originally ran May 16, 2018.
State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler beat state Rep. Rick Saccone 55-45 in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District, an open 63-34 Trump seat in the southwest corner of the state. The good news for Saccone is that at least this time, he won’t need to read article after article about how he and his “porn stache” are the worst things to ever befall the Republican Party.
Saccone narrowly lost a very high-profile March special election to Democrat Conor Lamb in the old (and very red) 18th District, but he didn’t take the hint and leave national politics. Reschenthaler, who had the support of Sen. Pat Toomey, made sure to run ads reminding viewers that Donald Trump reportedly called Saccone “weak” after his loss.
But Reschenthaler also received help from an even more infamous Pennsylvania Republican. A group called Conservatives for PA that ran ads against Saccone received most of its donations from the campaign account of former Rep. Tim Murphy, who used to represent that very same old 18th District. Murphy, of course, was that anti-abortion congressman who resigned last year after the news broke that he’d pressured the woman he was having an affair with to have an abortion when he thought she was carrying his child, and after a separate report also emerged about how he’d bullied his staff.
Murphy didn’t just use his money to go after Saccone. Politico reports that he even sent around a cropped video of Saccone that he thought could hurt him: Politico writes that the candidate seemed to “argue that taxpayers should not be on the hook for helping victims of the opioid epidemic,” though further comments by Saccone suggest he was only framing this idea as a question someone might ask.
Murphy sent the video around in a text with the comment, “Disturbing comments in light of the death rate in Westmoreland, [Pa.] from drug overdoses. Rick is basically saying, ‘I’m not going to help you! Get your grandparents to cure addiction!” But Murphy accidently sent that video to Saccone, and the two engaged in a nasty argument by text. Murphy insisted in an interview the day before the primary that his involvement wasn’t personal, and he was just trying to stop Saccone from costing the GOP another seat. Well … mission accomplished?