As a new year begins in the Trump administration, Republicans are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of defending and building up candidates in traditionally solid red states. Since the Inauguration, Democrats have picked up 34 legislative seats, 1 governor and 1 U.S. Senate seat. Republicans have only gained 4 State Legislative seats. Trump and other prominent Republican leaders are scrambling to protect their majority.
Pennsylvania is becoming another important showdown for the two parties. The incumbent Governor Murphy stepped down from a long string of wins that date back to 2003, because of rumors of an extramarital affair and his request for his mistress to get an abortion. The vacant seat is a new test to see if Trump can maintain his dominance in Pennsylvania which he led by 20 percentage points in the 2016 elections.
A young Democrat, Conor Lamb, is hoping to change Pennsylvania to blue with a win in the race for Governor. Lamb, 33, is a former Federal Prosecutor and a Marine veteran. His opponent, Rick Saccone is a 59-year-old State Representative and a former Military Intelligence officer. Lamb is a strong candidate supported by the DNC because he is more centrist in many of his views. He has strong roots in the district and is running on creating decent paying jobs through strengthening the infrastructure and promising to protect Social Security and Medicare.
Lamb also points out that his opponent, Saccone voted to cut 10 million in funding for the overdose drug, Naloxone. This drug has saved countless lives in the Opioid epidemic and Lamb suggests that for a right to lifer, Saccone is virtually sealing the death of many with this vote. Conversely, Lamb supports a healthcare approach to solving the drug problem in Pennsylvania and he is calling for more rehab centers, as well as medical treatments available after rehab.
The Republican Party has already thrown excessive amounts of money toward the governor race that will be decided in March. Paul Ryan has sponsored the opening of a Republican field office in Pennsylvania from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP SuperPac. This group will provide unlimited funding and 50 full time on the ground workers that promise to make contact with over 250,000 voters. Saccone also has the assistance of SuperPac billionaire Rickets family, who have already spent over $1 million dollars for ads and manpower.
Democrats, on the other hand, have relied on verbal support for Lamb and they point to their $10,000 monthly contribution to the Pennsylvania State Democrat Fund. The DNR and groups like End Citizens United, a pac group that works for the elimination of unfair funding in the election process, prefer to use influence and the strength of Lamb’s reputation to win the race.