Democratic Congressional candidate Conor Lamb said Wednesday that his claimed victory in Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional district came, at least in part, thanks to supporters of President Donald Trump who voted for him.
While Lamb claimed victory in the predawn hours Wednesday morning, the Associated Press still shows the race as too close to call. As of Wednesday morning, Lamb led Republican candidate Rick Saccone by just 641 votes.
“Look, I was at a lot of polling places yesterday with cars parked outside of them that had president Trump's bumper sticker on them. So he's a popular person here,” Lamb told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday. “But I think that what happens when you campaign in real life as much as possible is that those divisions go away. Everyone gave me a fair shake and I know that there are people that voted for the president who also voted for me. And, you know, I thank them for hearing me out.”
Regardless of the race’s actual winner, that Lamb has run such a competitive race has been seen as worrisome for Republicans who are expected to face an uphill battle in next November’s midterm elections. Trump won Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional district in 2016 by 20 points and until the resignation of former GOP Rep. Tim Murphy last fall, the Southwestern Pennsylvania district had been represented by a Republican since 2003.
Trump made two appearances in the district over the course of the special election campaign, including a rally last Saturday night where he pinned the Democratic candidate with the nickname “Lamb the Sham” and sought to tie him to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whom Lamb has vowed he would not support for the party’s leadership.
Lamb conceded that the president’s appearances likely had improved voter turnout but also said voters in his district had tired of the type of vitriol that has been a hallmark of Trump’s campaigning style long before Air Force One touched down in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“There was a lot of foolishness in this election and a lot of really cartoonish campaigning. And I think by the time of the president's visit last weekend, people were kind of tired of that entire approach,” Lamb said. “I mean, I had people, especially elderly people coming up to me almost every day and just saying, ‘man, I hate those ads against you. It's not right. It's not worthy of us.’ And so I think there was just a little bit of burnout on that type of campaigning before the president ever got here.”