Reeling from a Wisconsin upset, the GOP is sending Trump to save a Pennsylvania House seat

Trump heads to Pennsylvania
(Image credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Republicans won three out of four special elections on Tuesday in strongly Republican areas, but in each case the Democrat outperformed President Trump's 2016 numbers by at least a dozen percentage points and in one — a state Senate seat in western Wisconsin that Republicans have held for 17 years — Democrat Patty Schachtner won by 11 points, a 28-point swing from Trump's 2016 numbers. "This special election hit the Wisconsin GOP like an electric shock," said former conservative radio host Charlie Sykes. On Thursday, President Trump is heading to Pennsylvania to head off another upset in a U.S. House district Republicans have easily held for 16 years.

Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone, 59, and Democrat Conor Lamb, 33, are facing each other in a March 13 election to fill the seat former Rep. Tim Murphy (R) vacated amid a sex and abortion scandal. The gerrymandered district in western Pennsylvania voted for Trump by 19 percentage points, but "internal polls from both parties now reveal a single-digit race," The New York Times reports. Saccone has proved to be a lackluster campaigner and poor fundraiser, and so Trump is visiting Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence is campaigning with Saccone Feb. 2, and both men could return if needed, GOP officials tell the Times.

House Republicans in Washington have already contributed about half of Saccone's $200,000 war chest, and they have more fundraisers scheduled for him in Washington. Two conservative organizations have already spent $700,000 to broadcast ads against Lamb, a former prosecutor and Marine, and the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC is going to jump in with attack ads next week. Lamb, meanwhile, has said he wants to keep the race local; the House Democratic campaign arm is unlikely to put much money in the race, and other than Vice President Joe Biden, the Times says, "few high-profile Democrats would help Mr. Lamb by dipping into the district." Lamb has raised more than $550,000.

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