Why Tuesday's Special Election in Pennsylvania Matters So Much

Trump Administration Looking into Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

House Democrats are hopeful they can pull of their first major special election upset on Tuesday, steal a heavily Republican blue-collar seat and deepen the GOP's sense of dread over the upcoming midterm elections.

President Donald Trump spoke at a campaign rally in western Pennsylvania on Saturday, in support of his policies and of Republican candidate Rick Saccone, who is running for a House seat.

Polls show a close race between Saccone and the Democrat, former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, in a district that President Donald Trump won by almost 20 percentage points in 2016's presidential election.

I would say that Trump couldn't have hurt Saccone more if he'd directly praised Conor Lamb on the stump.

But Saccone has been struggling to gain enthusiasm in Trump country.

Suddenly it's under a political microscope, with the battle between culturally conservative Trump-backed state representative Rick Saccone, 60, and Democratic newcomer Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former prosecutor and US Marine lawyer, taking on national implications.

"The people of Pittsburgh can not be conned by this guy Lamb", Trump said, dismissing Lamb's efforts to run as a moderate Democrat.

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.

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And while other national Republicans want to blame Saccone for most of the mess, they concede that the ideal storm has hit - and may blow over other candidates even in seemingly safe seats if they're not prepared next fall.

He also made sure the workers in this industrial-heavy region see the new steel tariffs as "my baby"' even as Lamb and Saccone have endorsed the move.

Plus, the only bit of Saccone news that gained any bit of traction over the weekend was a report that he may have exaggerated the level of his diplomatic experience in North Korea.

The groups sought to yoke Lamb to Pelosi and criticized him for opposing the 2017 tax-cut law written by Republicans. "People have paid into these programs over the course of a lifetime", Lamb told more than 300 retired coal miners and Democratic activists Sunday in Waynesburg, 40 miles south of Pittsburgh. "He's good with the Second Amendment".

Later, he held up China and Singapore as examples of countries that had successfully tackled their drug problems and suggested mandating the death penalty for drug dealers in the United States. In 2014 and 2016, Murphy didn't even face a Democratic challenger. Murphy resigned in October amid a sex scandal.

Trump conceded Lamb might not back Pelosi but said most House Democrats will.

"If I were Saccone, I'd tell Trump to stay away because he puts his foot in his mouth", she said.

The Republican argument is enough for voters like 54-year-old Jeffrey Snelling. His bottom line, though: "I'm not voting for any liberal who's going to advance the Democratic Party agenda". "I'm a supporter of the death penalty, but only when in those type of instance where we absolutely are 100 percent certain that the person is 100 percent guilty".

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