Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory early this morning in the PA-18 special election for Congress. The vote tally was incredibly close, but it seems that Lamb will remain the winner. This is an extraordinary result. Not only did Trump win in this district by 20 points, but no Democrat has held this seat in decades. More astonishingly, this district is still set up as a safely gerrymandered win for Republicans. The newly approved “fairer” PA districts don’t go into effect until the midterms.
Lamb ran as a moderate and held some views that are not in the Democratic mainstream. For example, he publicly stated that he will not support Nancy Pelosi for House leader if that day comes, and he also took a fairly conservative stance on guns. BUT, he was strongly against ACA repeal, he was a vocal critic of the Tax Scam, and he is a big supporter of unions. Perhaps most important, he was a candidate that fairly reflected his district, while his opponent Rick Saccone was a far-right extremist. Recall that Saccone was the guy who said liberals like Lamb hate America and God.
One lesson here for NY-19 is that our Congressional Candidate in the midterm needs to reflect the mainstream of our district. And judging by our seven candidates, all are more home-grown than Long Island native John Faso, so this is good news.
Another lesson is that a Democrat can win while strongly supporting the ACA and opposing the grotesquely unfair Tax Scam. The ACA is as popular as ever, and it stands to reason that many people who “hated Obamacare” learned a hard lesson after voting for Trump. They discovered their healthcare was newly vulnerable, and gained a new found appreciation for the ACA. It also stands to reason that many voters with high hopes for the tax cuts have seen little change in their take-home pay, and are now understanding that they’ve been conned.
Finally, Conor Lamb did not take any corporate PAC money and won with a ton of small contributions. His was a grass-roots campaign, and he used that fact against his opponent. Many voters now understand that money is ruining our political system, and any candidate who takes a principled stand against corporate money can use that fact in a successful way.
As we approach the primary, and then the midterm, we can take nothing for granted. The GOP plutocrats are surely going to flood the Faso campaign with money, so we must out-organize and out-energize our opponent. And we must also make sure to emphasize the issues that affect people’s daily lives, like health care and taxes, knowing that these are winning issues, no matter how much a small core of Trump dead-enders hate them.
Trump must be fuming after extending himself so outrageously to help Saccone. If we are eventually able to flip the House, it will open the doors to new congressional investigations and the possibility of impeachment, and this prospect terrifies Trump.
So let’s do in NY-19 what Conor Lamb did in PA-18.