CANONSBURG, Pa. — Mar 12, 2018, 5:27 PM ET

Pa. House election hits final day of campaign in close race


Interested in Midterm Elections?

Add Midterm Elections as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Midterm Elections news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

The final day of campaigning Monday before votes are cast in western Pennsylvania's closely watched congressional election drew a visit by Donald Trump Jr. and lots of door-knocking all over the southwestern district where polls show a close race.

President Donald Trump tweeted about "steel and business" in a final push to sway voters while Donald Trump Jr., visiting a candy-making business, touted Republican Rick Saccone as someone who will be "helping fight with my father" for jobs to come back from overseas.

Saccone, a 60-year-old state lawmaker, has struggled with an electorate that favored Trump by nearly 20 percentage points just 16 months ago. He's up against 33-year-old Conor Lamb, who pitches himself as an independent-minded Democrat.

Trump Jr., eating ice cream with Saccone at Sarris Candies in front of dozens of cameras, said Trump supporters "gotta stay in the game, they gotta stay motivated."

"Our guys just can't take winning for granted," Trump Jr. said. "They have to get out there, they have to continue this fight, now, for the rest of '18, in '20 and in eight years we can make a big difference. They just can't be lazy. They've gotta get out and vote, and if they get out and vote, we win easily."

Lamb mostly stayed away from the cameras Monday, spending his final day knocking on doors in suburbs and small-towns outside Pittsburgh.

The outcome Tuesday of 2018's first congressional elections is a barometer ahead of November's midterm elections.

Democrats must flip 24 GOP-held seats to claim a House majority. An upset would embolden them as they look to win in places where the party has lost ground in recent decades, and it would spook Republicans about their prospects in this tempestuous era of Trump.

The president's son was the latest in a line of national pro-Trump figures to appear with Saccone, a strong Trump supporter who boasts one of the most conservative voting records in Pennsylvania's Legislature.

That hasn't given Saccone much traction against Lamb, a Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor, in a district with influential labor unions and a long history of coal mining and steel-making.

A poll released Monday by Monmouth University shows Lamb at 51 percent and Saccone at 45 percent in a district previously held by former eight-term Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned last fall amid a sex scandal.

A key difference between Murphy and Saccone: Murphy tended to have labor union support. Saccone does not.

GOP and Trump-aligned groups have spent more than $10 million to prop up Saccone. They've painted Lamb as a lackey of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and weak on immigration.

"Lamb will always vote for Pelosi and Dems....Will raise taxes, weak on Crime and Border," Trump tweeted Monday.

For his part, Lamb has held the national party at arm's length, opposing sweeping gun restrictions, endorsing Trump's new steel tariffs, avoiding attacking the president and telling voters he wouldn't back Pelosi for speaker if Democrats won a House majority.

Lamb, however, keeps to party orthodoxy on unions.

He blasts the new Republican tax law as a gift to the wealthy and paints congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, as a threat to Social Security and Medicare.

The combination has been enough to stoke excitement among the Democratic base, while giving Lamb an opening to reach moderates he'll need for a winning coalition.

"I was really down after the presidential election, but Conor has me totally enthusiastic again," said Patricia Bancroft, 62, as she took a break from working the phones at Lamb's Allegheny County field office Monday afternoon.

"He's the first candidate I've ever put a sign in my yard for and volunteered for," said Bancroft, adding that she's worked two shifts a week for Lamb since meeting him in January.

Bancroft, who recently retired as a nurse practitioner, is a registered Democrat in Washington County, but Lamb managed to attract her Republican husband, as well.

A 68-year-old retired engineer who described himself as a "John Kasich-Daddy Bush Republican," Bruce Bancroft said he always voted for Murphy, but finds Saccone too strident for the district and an already acrimonious Congress.

"I don't agree with Conor on every issue," Bruce Bancroft said. "But he is fair-minded, analytical, reasoned. We need more people like that in Congress on both sides of the aisle."

The areas outside Pittsburgh have trended away from conservative Democratic representation in Congress and the state Legislature to Republican over the last two decades in districts drawn by Republicans. Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans by almost a four-to-three ratio in a district where gun rights are a high priority, and Democrats still hold some local offices.

Saccone had a full schedule of retail visits Monday, including at an ambulance company. Touring the candy-maker, he greeted workers and urged them to vote.

"Bring your friends and family, drag them out," he told hair-netted employees boxing up chocolate for Easter.

Saccone on Monday insisted he did not support cuts to Medicare or Social Security, and accused the left of trying to scare seniors. He also said he didn't give the Monmouth poll much credence.

"We're out meeting people every day and everywhere I get it's 100 to 1 for Rick Saccone," Saccone said. "So I'm ready. I'm ready for tomorrow."


Barrow reported from Carnegie, Pennsylvania. Follow Barrow and Levy on Twitter at and .

News - Pa. House election hits final day of campaign in close race

RRelated Posts


  • Wry Grin

    Pennsylvania uses some of the worst paperless electronic "voting" systems in the country. If the torture-loving old fascist beats the popular candidate, it'll be because of rigging.

  • Fred Mertz Pants

    You sure he said "steel and business", and not "stealing business"? I mean, he is not necessarily known as an honest businessman.

  • jon rhodes

    I am shocked to watch the typical Republican line up behind this fraudulent, incompetent, immoral, loud mouth president. If a writer wished to create a character that all thinking people would reject, it would be Trump. But his followers are simply steeped in denial. Even Trump's favorite pastor came out the other day and actually said that all of Trump's sexual dalliances are "irrelevant." He didn't mention the many women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual advances. Does this good pastor also believe these personally hurtful experiences are also irrelevant? Not only is Trump a disgusting person, even his spiritual spokesmen is disgusting. What a team.

  • RZC

    Lamb will win most likely , Trump just doesn't get it or does but won't accept the fact that he IS NOT HELPFULL to these candidates since he is the most disliked POTUS and even person ever it appears .

  • Lee Thompson

    The upcoming elections, whether primaries, special elections or the November mid-term election, are about our democracy. The Republican controlled congress has abdicated their constitutional duty in 'checking' over-reach of power. We need to remove Republicans of control of at least one house of congress.

  • Top shelf

    That woman's comments equating lobsters with a woman's freedom of choice shows the typically clueless mindset of a Trump Republican.

  • linmarco

    Elections in this country have become a hoot. They are nothing more than three ring circuses with elephants, mules, and audiences of millions. H.L Mencken once made a statement about both major parties. He said in essence each of them accuses the other of being comprised of thieves, hucksters, dunces, and idiots and they were both right.

  • tstorm

    Trump. Turning America back 300 years......

  • Fred Mertz Pants

    Don't be fooled by the "Chicken Little" sky is falling rhetoric from the mouth of trump.

    I am banking on the fine people of Pennsylvania being smarter than that.

  • dottycharlesbanks

    Lamb sounds like a Blue Dog Democrat, which means he will vote with Republicans more often than with Democrats. It was Blue Dog Democrats that stopped former President Obama from getting a lot of his agenda completed. A Lamb victory will not be a Democratic victory.

  • BD70

    Not all democrats are liberals just like not all republicans are extreme right wingers.

  • 2soon2b4got10

    Look, and I don't mean this in a flippant way, I'm actually serious - why does anyone pay attention to anything Donald Trump says? Last night was a fine example. He went overboard about himself... so much so that many people felt that he was overcompensating for being the abject failure that he is up upon the world stage.

    I get that he's the president, but the words that come out of his mouth are so often lies, fabrications, self-aggrandizement, conspiracy theories or childish attacks that finding actual intent is impossible. Even if Trump actually believes something he might say, he could easily believe the opposite hours or days later.

    People need to grasp a basic truth about Trump: He speaks not with the intent of informing, his words are chosen for their impact. When Trump makes a statement, the veracity of his words does not enter into the equation. He is completely untethered to truth.

    He says things to garner attention, and then basks in the attention when he watches the reaction on television later. For decades he has been motivated by attention. Now, as president, he is the constant recipient of the world's attention. The only reasonable reaction is to ignore what he says and respond only to what he does.

  • TexasVulcan

    As I've said before, it will take large turnouts among women and minorities to flip a district from red to blue.

  • ChrisSnyder60

    Is weird how people vote on a single issue (guns or abortion) and are clueless about high-end/corp tax cuts and what the debt can do to the nation. Mitch Daniels called it the New Red (ink) Enemy, and Trump whips these people up to where they don't even think about it after adding a projected $10T in seven years. A Republican could sell the country to Russia and these people would be okay with it as long as they can keep AR-15s and the politician outlaws abortion.