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Democrats dissect Lamb’s win with an eye to November’s races

Democrats dissect Lamb’s win with an eye to November’s races

With Democrat Conor Lamb holding on to a margin of a few hundred votes in Tuesday’s special election to fill a Pennsylvania House seat, strategists from both parties were frantically seeking lessons in the outcome that will help them in the midterms this fall.

What combination of Lamb’s personal qualities, policy positions, grassroots organizing, labor-union support and disaffection with Donald Trump led to the apparent victory by the 33-year-old first-time candidate over Republican state representative Rick Saccone in an overwhelmingly Republican district on the West Virginia border?

Lamb’s local supporters credit his support from labor unions and a resistance movement that began organizing the district almost a year ago, long before the incumbent congressman resigned in a sex scandal. But the parties also are taking note of Lamb’s biography, as a former prosecutor and Marine veteran, and his moderate positions on hot-button social issues. “We can win even the reddest districts if we recruit candidates who fit them,” Democratic strategist Lis Smith said Wednesday. “We cannot and should not expect Democrats who run in western Pennsylvania to espouse West Village political views.” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnamy expressed the views of many on the right when she said Lamb “has essentially run as a Republican.”

But as important as Lamb’s views were — personally opposed to abortion, but a supporter of existing abortion rights laws; for stronger gun purchase background checks but against a new assault weapons ban — the nature of the mixed suburban-rural district itself made his victory possible. That means that any lessons drawn from Lamb’s victory may well be applicable in similar districts — but not necessarily in those that lack a strong union base.

“The boots on the ground of grassroots activists and reinvigorated labor organizers … won back a Trump plus-20 district door by door, call by call,” an elated Valerie Fleisher, a leader of 412 Resistance, a suburban Allegheny County activist group begun shortly after Trump’s 2016 victory, told Yahoo News. “It was such a great night for the grassroots activists that had been organizing in the district for 14 months.”

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Lamb had a lead of fewer than 1,000 votes out of the more than 226,000 cast, with provisional ballots not due to be counted until Friday. Lamb claimed victory Tuesday night, but Saccone had not conceded as of Wednesday morning. A recount would not automatically be triggered under such circumstances, but the Saccone campaign could petition for one, and Republicans may well do so.

“We followed what I learned in the Marines — leave no one behind. We went everywhere; we talked to everyone; we invited everyone in,” Lamb told supporters at his victory party.

  getting an abortion. Lamb will represent a district that is set t

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