Dreaming Donkeys Hope to Salvage Something Special in Pennsylvania Election

Race between Democrat Conor Lamb, Republican Rick Saccone is rated a toss-up but likely not the bellwether the experts proclaimed

by Peter Parisi | Updated 13 Mar 2018 at 6:54 PM

Democrats and their water carriers in the mainstream media had the wind knocked out of their sails last week when the “blue wave” they were breathlessly forecasting didn’t materialize in the first-in-the-nation Texas primaries on March 6.

They had convinced themselves the Lone Star State would herald GOP doom in the November midterms, but the Texas tsunami was barely a ripple. So now it’s off to southwestern Pennsylvania Tuesday in the ongoing search of that elusive electoral omen.

Sen. Ted Cruz, well, cruised to renomination in Texas, garnering more than double the number of votes in the Republican primary that his much-ballyhooed liberal opponent-to-be, Rep. Robert F. “Beto” O’Rourke, received in the Democratic contest (1.32 million vs. 641,000).

O’Rourke’s performance, given all the hype it received ahead of the primary, was — in Texas parlance — all hat and no cattle. Cruz is the prohibitive favorite this fall. O’Rourke is only slightly more likely to “turn Texas blue” than Wendy Davis’ risible gubernatorial bid did in 2014.

Embarrassed Democrats quickly moved the goal posts, pivoting to today’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Pennsylvania-18, which stretches south and west from Pittsburgh to the Ohio and West Virginia lines, is supposed to be a safe Republican district.

President Donald Trump won it in November 2016 by 20 points, but polls show Tuesday’s race a toss-up, with one survey showing Republican Rick Saccone ahead of Democrat Conor Lamb 45 percent to 42 percent, while another has Lamb up 48 percent to 45 percent.

Democrats and their media sock puppets are saying Pennsylvania-18 will be the real bellwether for this fall, that five prior special elections for Republican House seats that the Democrats were supposed to flip — but didn’t — were not. (Has anyone in the Atlanta area put out an APB for Jon Ossoff lately?)

According to CNN’s tally, Democrats have flipped 39 Republican-held, mostly state and local seats since Trump became president, including the Alabama anomaly in which Doug Jones won a Senate seat deep in the heart of Dixie.

(Mr. Jones’ chances of winning re-election in 2020 are somewhere between slim and nil, given the liberal voting record he’s been compiling since he took office in January — unless Roy Moore is again the Republican nominee.)

Nervous Nellie Republicans can take some consolation in the fact that Democrats still have miles to go to recoup the 1,042 seats up and down the ballot that, by Fox News’ count, they lost during the hopey-changey presidency of Barack Obama.

Campaigning Saturday for Saccone, a four-term Pennsylvania state representative, Trump referred to his opponent as “Lamb the sham. He’s trying to act like a Republican. He won’t give me one vote.”

One only needs to look to Lamb’s campaign website to see that’s all too likely. The Democrat decries Trump’s recent tax cut as “giving away our tax dollars to the wealthy and big corporations,” accuses congressional Republicans of scheming to “cut the programs seniors depend on” in the guise of “entitlement reform,” and vows to protect unions’ special rights to “prevailing wages” and “project labor agreements.”

It’s not on his website, but he also opposes a thoroughly reasonable pro-life measure that would ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation.

Lamb’s loud proclamation that he wouldn’t vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader is a thoroughly empty gesture, as he surely knows, because she will be the House Democratic leader again, with or without his vote. Worse yet, she will again become Speaker of the House if Democrats take back the majority in November.

Lamb’s loud proclamation that he wouldn’t vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader is a thoroughly empty gesture, as he surely knows.

On the other hand, if Saccone keeps the seat in the Republican column, but the margin of victory is held to single digits, Democrats will again proclaim it a moral victory, just as they did in those five prior special congressional elections.

What Evan Smith, the longtime political analyst for the Texas Tribune, said last week of Texas Democrats’ quarter-century of wishful thinking of turning their state blue is true of Democrats more generally.

“They say, ‘If we keep this to single digits, we celebrate,'” he told Vox.com. “You know what you call a Republican who wins by single digits when Republicans typically win by double digits?”

“Congressman,” he said.

Peter Parisi is a former longtime editor at The Washingon Times. 

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