DonkeyHotey / Flickr Republican Elephant amp Democratic Donkey Icons...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Don’t get me wrong, this congressional race in PA-18 is as serious as a heart attack and I don’t mean to imply otherwise. This race is key, and like all the special elections we have seen thus far in the Reign of Trump, it is being considered a referendum on the Doofus in Chief. Like Jones v. Moore, Lamb v. Saccone is being waged in what should be a slam dunk deep red district, one that Trump carried with 20 points. The Republican contender, Rick Saccone, is a real piece of work. Politico says that in the eyes of Republican heavyweights who have been footing his bills, Saccone, “was nearly universally panned as a deeply underwhelming candidate who leaned excessively on the national party to execute a massive, multimillion-dollar rescue effort.” Our Democratic brethren are laughing, we might as well join in. Politico:

At a rally with Lamb at the United Steelworkers headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, marveled at how much Republicans had spent on the race.

“The president comes in for his second visit, the vice president has been here, Ivanka’s been here, cabinet secretaries have been here, 10 kitchen sinks have been thrown here, $15 million has been spent here, and that Marine is still standing,” Doyle exclaimed.

The Republican powers that be are wondering if Saccone is more trouble than he’s worth.

They [national GOP] describe a candidate who largely ignored pleas to raise the money he needed, who blindsided the White House and the national party with his choice of a political strategist, and whose amateur-style social media feed included low-quality videos of him at a local bar and yukking it up with Santa. To make matters worse, Saccone is up against a Democratic rival the party could hardly have engineered had it tried: Conor Lamb, an Ivy League-educated 33-year-old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor.

“The media fawns over my opponent, trying to stretch his little thin resume and trying to make it sound like it’s something big, when I have a big resume that they to try and scrunch down and don’t say anything about,” he said.

The major problem is that Lamb has outraised Saccone 5 to 1; also, Lamb is telegenic and charismatic and Saccone is, again, underwhelming as a campaigner.

Short on campaign cash of his own, Saccone has relied almost entirely on the national party and outside groups to wage a media blitz on his behalf. Those involved in the effort have been horrified at the candidate’s few attempts at TV advertising, one of which featured him sitting at a kitchen table next to a coffee mug emblazoned with the American flag.

…the outside groups have found that introducing him to voters, rather than having Saccone do it himself, has proven challenging. The telegenic Lamb, meanwhile, has used his extensive campaign bank account to air a series of commercials highlighting his military service.

It’s been a costly endeavor for Republicans. Through Tuesday, GOP groups had filled the advertising gap between the two candidates by spending nearly $7.5 million on TV ads, according to media buying figures. Because outside groups pay a higher rate to air commercials than candidates do, the party has been forced to dig deep into its coffers and expend resources that could otherwise be used to help endangered incumbents this fall.

So, as stated, the Republicans have thrown in the kitchen sink and to what avail?

As they funneled into Trump’s rally on Saturday, some of the president’s supporters conceded they were worried. They said Lamb had waged a surprisingly energetic campaign for such a conservative seat.

“I’ve seen a lot more Conor Lamb signs in my neighborhood,” said Tracy Barzan, a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom whose 13-year-old son, Gavin, wore a Trump hat signed by Mike Pence.

“A lot of people I’ve heard from who are voting for Conor Lamb are doing so because of his age, him being younger, and looking at it that he has fresh ideas,” she added.

Hopefully, this is the precursor to and harbinger of the bloodbath that the Republicans fear in November. We’re literally in the last hours of this campaign.

In the end there can be only one — May it be Conor Lamb, the Democrat.

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