Republicans got their clocks cleaned in the 18th congressional district special election near Pittsburgh. Trump won there by 20 points in 2016. So what happened?
First the Congressman who held the seat billed himself as a religious conservative and was forced to resign when it was revealed that not only did he have a mistress but upon discovering she was pregnant he asked her to have an abortion. Hence the reason for the special election. No doubt this left a bad taste for Republicans in the mouths of many voters.
Next, his would be successor Rick Saccone was a 60 year old career politician who was never really engaged in his own campaign. He apparently thought he could coast to victory. Saccone had been chastised by the party hierarchy for failing to put together a fund raising organization which means he failed to engage with constituents. Subsequently this meant he had no ground game for getting his voters to the polls.
Third the 60 year old was running against a charismatic young “conservative” candidate who was also a former marine. Not only that, but Democrat Conor Lamb was also a legacy candidate whose family is well known and has deep political roots within the district.
Finally and most concerning is that Trump’s bombastic approach to governing is beginning to wear thin with some of those who once supported him and “Crooked Hillary” is not part of the equation in a local election. Also, Lamb distanced himself from the other “wicked witch” Nancy Pelosi which made it difficult to tie the two of them together and the sad truth is that neither Saccone or the party made any attempt to do so.
The only silver lining in this debacle is that it may serve as a wake up call to Trump and the Republicans. Part one is recruiting good candidates. No amount of money will save a bad one.
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