Get ready for another special election, this time in Pennsylvania. Voters are headed to the polls today to decide who will replace Republican Rep. Tim Murphy. The district has long been red, but this race is turning out to be closer than expected and Republicans are wary.
Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb are running to fill the seat vacated by Murphy after he resigned in the fall when it was reported he had an extramarital affair and had urged his mistress to have an abortion.
Trump won Pensylvannia's 18th district by 20 points in 2016. It would seem like a sure bet for Saccone, a seasoned state legislator and Air Force veteran who has coined himself as "Trump before Trump."
Democrats, however, may have found the perfect candidate to win over the district's blue-collar voters.
Cecil Roberts, the head of the United Mine Workers Union, called Lamb, 33, a "God-fearing, union-supporting, gun-owning, job-protecting, pension-defending, social-security-believing … sending-drug-dealers-to-jail Democrat," according to The Guardian.
Lamb, a Marine Corps veteran has said he personally opposed abortions and his first campaign ad featured him shooting a semiautomatic rifle. Lamb also supported Trump's steel tariffs, something Republicans hoped would be a selling point for Saccone in the steel and mining district.
Many see the race between Saccone and Lamb as a referendum on Trump's presidency as well as a bellwether for the November midterm elections. Some GOP lawmakers agree, saying Saccone doesn't have the same backing as Trump.
"You can't say that his coalition is the same as the President's because it's just not," Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Taylor said of Saccone in an interview with CNN.
On Monday, Saccone came under fire for accusing Democrats of hating Trump, America and God.
Outside GOP spending groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund have spent more than $10 million to save the district. Meanwhile, outside Democratic groups have spent $1.8 million.
But whoever wins will have to immediately begin campaigning again for the November elections, and it will be an even more difficult fight since the 18th district is set to disappear. In February, the state's Supreme Court struck down the GOP-favored gerrymandered congressional map and ordered the state legislature to redraw it. The new map splits most of the current 18th District between the new heavily Republican 14th District and the swingier, suburban 17th District.