Pennsylvania holds a special congressional election next Tuesday, and Republicans aren't sure their candidate, Rick Saccone, can win the conservative district President Trump took by 20 percentage points. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both came up to campaign with Saccone, but internal polling shows him barely trailing Democrat Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former prosecutor and Marine veteran who has spent his nearly $4 million war chest on professional ads and a 16-person full-time campaign team, Politico reports. Saccone has four full-time staffers and is a lackluster fundraiser; the national party has pumped millions into the race to rescue him.
"Candidate quality matters, and when one candidate outraises the other 5-to-1, that creates real challenges for outside groups trying to win a race," says Corry Bliss, who runs the main super PAC tied to House Republicans. As of Tuesday, Republican groups had spent nearly $7.5 million on TV ads alone, Politico says, but that infusion — "much of it highlighting the GOP tax cuts and attempting to tie Lamb to [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi — has failed to move the needle." White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is scheduled to campaign with Saccone on Thursday and Trump has another rally planned with him on Saturday.
As the election nears, "the national GOP is increasingly pinning the blame on Saccone," but "with so much attention trained on the race, House GOP leaders determined they had little choice but to spend whatever is needed to pull Saccone over the finish line," Politico says. "A loss would be wholly embarrassing, many Republicans privately acknowledge, given that it would take place in a state that Trump made a cornerstone of his 2016 victory. And the themes that the GOP has highlighted in the special election ... are the centerpieces of the party’s 2018 campaign plan." You can read more about the race at Politico. Peter Weber