Donald Trump Jr. says GOP candidate will help father

Marianne Goodland with Colorado Politics and Jesse Paul of the Denver Post

Marianne Goodland with Colorado Politics and Jesse Paul of the Denver Post

This analysis was first available to Bloomberg Government subscribers.

Lamb is squaring off against Republican Rick Saccone, a state legislator and Air Force veteran in a traditionally blue-collar district that backed President Donald Trump by 20 points in 2016.

Republican Rep. Tim Murphy represented the district from 2003 until this year. In 24 consecutive special House elections, the party defending the vacant district has been victorious, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down the map, and Lamb is likely to run next fall against Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) in a much less conservative district than the gerrymandered one he's now trying to win. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for him in early March.

GOP take: Saccone was a poor candidate, while Lamb was a very good one. And this guy can really help me: Rick Saccone.

Feeling bullish after big wins in other special elections a year ago and enjoying a groundswell of grassroots activism these days, Democrats are hoping a win in this ruby red district will not only make it easier for them to take back the House in November, but also send a message that their candidates can play in any part of the country.

Republicans have poured more than twice as much into the Pennsylvania race as Democrats.

"They say the other side is energized", Saccone reportedly said. He also enthusiastically supports President Donald Trump. "Peace. I think its' time, and I think we've shown great strength".

Lamb defended gun rights and opposed a proposal to raise the minimum purchase age for a rifle to 21, but promoted a universal background-check system with "no loopholes, period".

"I need people who can help me".

Fundraising struggles have limited Saccone's ability to tell his own story. The Democrat raked in over $3.3 million for the special election, while Saccone brought in about $703,000, according to federal filings.

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In an effort to downplay expectations, GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has said she expects it to be a "tight, tight race".

Democrats "have a hatred of our president", Saccone said Monday at a closing campaign rally.

The pro-Saccone/anti-Lamb spending includes more than $3.5 million from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, and more than $3.3 million from Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-political action committee linked to House Republican leaders.

Democrats and Republicans involved in the race agree on a few things. In the final 10 days of the campaign, Republican advertising shifted from taxes to public safety, attacking Lamb's record as a prosecutor. Last month, Lamb's image rating stood at 49 percent favorable, versus 31 percent unfavorable. It's about 93% white and only about 36.5% of the population graduated from college. This is the second consecutive high profile race, after the Alabama US Senate clash, in which Trump's preferred candidate fell short even with the President's blessing and an overwhelmingly red electorate.

National Republicans have done everything possible to save the district. The district, home to parts of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties in southwestern part of the state, is Trump country. The opioid crisis has buffeted the region.

For the past five months, Democrats and Republicans alike have been pouring money into the next special election that takes place Tuesday in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional district.

Jamie Sarris, who runs the business with her husband Bill, said the tax legislation was "for sure" the reason it was able to make such large strides this year.

Win or lose tomorrow, Lamb could run in November in a reconfigured district, numbered the 17th, where Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) is expected to seek re-election.

The new map splits most of the current 18th Congressional District between the new heavily Republican 14th District and a more competitive 17th Congressional District.

But at Sarris Candies the tax cut allowed for it to significantly boost its staff, which was on full display as a company official led Saccone, Trump Jr., and a large throng of reporters on a tour through the factory, which was converted from the old Sarris family home almost 60 years ago. He could face opposition in the May Republican primary.

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