Too close to call but Demo­crat Lamb claims win in Penn­syl­va­nia

Ripon Bulletin - - Local -

MT. LE­BANON, Pa. (AP) — A ra­zor’s edge sep­a­rated Demo­crat Conor Lamb and Repub­li­can Rick Sac­cone early Wed­nes­day in their closely watched spe­cial elec­tion in Penn­syl­va­nia, where a sur­pris­ingly strong bid by first­time can­di­date Lamb se­verely tested Don­ald Trump’s sway in a GOP strong­hold.

Lamb claimed vic­tory be­fore ex­u­ber­ant sup­port­ers af­ter mid­night, though many ab­sen­tee bal­lots were still to be counted in the con­test that has drawn na­tional at­ten­tion as a bell­wether for the midterm elec­tions in Novem­ber when the Repub­li­can Party’s House and Se­nate ma­jori­ties are at risk.

Lamb, a Marine vet­eran, told his crowd that vot­ers had di­rected him to “do your job” in Wash­ing­ton. “Mis­sion ac­cepted,” he de­clared. Ear­lier, Sac­cone told his own sup­port­ers, “It’s not over yet, we’re go­ing to fight all the way, all the way to the end, we’ll never give up.”

Re­gard­less of the out­come — and a re­count was pos­si­ble — Lamb’s show­ing in a dis­trict Trump won by 20 points in the pres­i­den­tial race was sure to stoke anx­i­ety among Repub­li­cans na­tion­wide and re­newed en­thu­si­asm among Democrats.

Af­ter mid­night with all precincts re­port­ing, un­of­fi­cial re­sults had Lamb lead­ing Repub­li­can state Rep. Sac­cone by fewer than 600 votes. More than 1,000 ab­sen­tee bal­lots were still be­ing tab­u­lated as the count car­ried into Wed­nes­day.

In a race this close, ei­ther can­di­date’s sup­port­ers can ask for a re­count. How­ever there are stiff re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing re­quir­ing three vot­ers in the same precinct who can at­test that er­ror or fraud was com­mit­ted.

The stakes in the high-pro­file spe­cial elec­tion were more po­lit­i­cal than prac­ti­cal.

The ul­ti­mate win­ner will face re-elec­tion in just eight months, and the con­gres­sional dis­trict as cur­rently shaped will likely van­ish next year thanks to a court-or­dered re­draw­ing of the state’s dis­trict maps. Yet Pres­i­dent Trump and his chief al­lies in­vested tremen­dous time and re­sources in keep­ing the seat in Repub­li­can hands, mind­ful the con­test could be used to mea­sure Trump’s last­ing ap­peal among white, work­ing­class vot­ers and Democrats’ anti-Trump fer­vor.

The White House scram­bled to rally vot­ers be­hind Sac­cone, who cast him­self as the pres­i­dent’s “wing­man,” but he strug­gled at times to con­nect with the blue-col­lar coali­tion that fu­eled Trump’s vic­tory lit­tle more than a year ago.

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