Democrat Conor Lamb said Wednesday that he will work with President Donald Trump on infrastructure and other issues “that are really important to us here in western Pennsylvania,” during an interview Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Tuesday’s race for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District was still too close to call Wednesday morning, with just a few hundred votes separating Lamb from Republican Rick Saccone in a special election that saw more than 224,000 votes cast. Lamb, a former Marine who ran as a moderate Democrat, claimed victory Tuesday night, though Saccone still hasn’t conceded the red district Trump won by 20 points in 2016.
When asked which issues he would work on with Trump, Lamb praised the president for talking “about a number of issues that are really important to us here in western Pennsylvania.”
“And I think [Trump] has shown some flexibility on how he would like to approach those things,” Lamb said. “The infrastructure is probably number one there. We have a real need for it out here. Just basic things like the structural efficiency of our bridges is a big problem, you know, highway projects.”
He continued with his belief that Trump “is receptive to getting work done on those and — and I think it’s up to us to work together to finally get this thing done. We’ve been talking about it for a long time.”
MSNBC co-anchor Willie Geist asked Lamb to comment on his past criticism of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic Party’s far-Left swing.
“You made the case on the campaign trail over the last several months that there needs to be new leadership in Washington. And you said so at the top of both parties,” Geist said. “You said it wasn’t personal toward Nancy Pelosi, but you believe it was a new day in Washington. So when you arrive in Washington, assuming you do win this election, do you think Nancy Pelosi should go?”
Lamb said he didn’t “know if we are there yet” because there wouldn’t be another party leadership vote for quite some time and because there are “a couple more elections to go for me before we’d ever get there.” Lamb will be running for Congress again for a full two-year term in November after Pennsylvania has redistricted.
“However, yes, I have said and I continue to say that I think we need new leadership at the top of both parties in the House,” Lamb said. “So I’d like to see someone besides Nancy Pelosi run, and that’s who I would support. But I definitely would like to see a different leader than [Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan on the other side.”
Geist asked Lamb, “What is it about Nancy Pelosi specifically that you believe makes her unqualified to do the job or that at least she should go?” Lamb replied, “Well, it’s nothing personal.”
“I just think that the leadership of both parties have presided over a time when we’ve had more and more gridlock and fewer and fewer important things getting done,” Lamb said. “And I always learn that responsibility starts at the top. So I think we need to sweep some new people in there.”
Lamb’s willingness to work with Trump and find common ground echoed the sentiments Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) expressed after he defeated GOP candidate Roy Moore in 2017, after Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. Prior to Jones, a Democrat hadn’t won a Senate seat in Alabama since Sen. Richard Shelby in 1992. Shelby ultimately switched to the Republican Party in 1994.
Jones pledged to work with Trump to best serve Alabamans, telling NBC News in December, “If the president has things on his agenda that I think are good for the people of Alabama, then I’m absolutely going to work there with him.”
Jones told CNN’s “State of the Union” in December that “of course” he would consider voting with GOP Senate colleagues on key issues.
“Now, don’t expect me to vote solidly for Republicans or Democrats,” Jones said. “I’m going to talk to people on both sides of the aisle, try to figure out what I think is in the best interest of my state and in the country.”
Since taking office in January, Jones has sided with Trump and GOP senators on a number of issues, including votes in favor of the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s warrantless surveillance program and authorizing a two-year budget bill.
Jones was one of only five Democrats to vote in favor of a four-week extension preventing a government shutdown on January 19. Most Senate Democrats initially refused to support the measure because they were clamoring for amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to be tacked onto a funding measure.
Jones was one of six Senate Democrats to vote in favor of confirming Alex Azar as Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services secretary. FiveThirtyEight found that Jones sided with Trump in 55.6 percent of cases as of mid-February.