The polls are closed in the closely-watched election to win a House seat in the Pennsylvania 18th Congressional District special election, which is being perceived as a bellwether of public opinion on President Donald Trump in a district the president easily won.
Conor Lamb, the 33-year-old Democrat seeking to win his first elective office in an area that usually goes Republican, comes from a family with a long tradition of service in the state’s politics. The Republican candidate in the race is Rick Saccone, 60, a state legislator who was a counter-intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force. They are running for the seat vacated by scandal-scarred Republican incumbent Tim Murphy. Trump stumped for Saccone and touted him on Twitter.
“Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!” Trump tweeted.
You can watch the live election results here:
You can see live updates below and, under them, more background on each candidate.
UPDATE, 8 p.m.
Some people manning the polls said there was good turnout. “We’ve gotten a lot of voters today, and we’re really surprised,” said Judi Kemis to Daily Item.com. She is a judge of elections for polling at South Central Elementary School in Canonsburg. “We’ve had a lot of young people, fresh 18-year-old voters.”
The race is being closely watched because Pennsylvania was one of the surprise upsets that gave Trump the White House. The district that Lamb is running in went to Trump by more than 20 points, but polls have shown a much closer race for the House. A new Monmouth University Poll released a day before voters cast their ballots showed Lamb leading Saccone.
The district is located in Western Pennsylvania and includes parts of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties. The men are vying to replace Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned amidst a sex scandal. Murphy ran uncontested in 2016 and 2014 and defeated his Democratic challenger by a 64 to 36 margin in 2012.
Both candidates are veterans. Lamb is a former assistant U.S. attorney who served as a captain in the Marine Corps. He is only 33-years-old, and he is perceived as a moderate.
Saccone was a “counter-intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force, defending against commandos and espionage from North Korea. Rick was on the counter-terror task forces for two Olympic Games: 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul, South Korea,” his website bio reports. Rick Saccone has served in the Pennsylvania state legislature since 2010.
According to The Independent, Saccone “served as a diplomat to North Korea from 2000 to 2001 during the administration of President George W Bush and was the only US citizen living in Pyongyang at the time.” He also served as a professor.
Lamb went on to become a prosecutor in the Marines where he “took on cover-ups of sexual assault in the Corps, both on Okinawa and at the Naval Academy,” according to Payday Report. His moderate views make him a threat to Republicans in the House race. According to Politico, Conor Lamb is a devout Catholic who is “pro-union and pro-gun, backs bipartisan deals for fixing Obamacare and the nation’s infrastructure, wants more job training and less college debt, and says he’s pro-fracking but pro-environment, too.”