Republicans prepare for recount in Pennsylvania special election

PITTSBURGH — The special congressional election in Pennsylvania appears headed to a recount, with Republicans preparing behind the scenes to cry foul after the vote count showed Democrat Conor Lamb leading Republican Rick Saccone by 627 votes.

The GOP is considering challenging the accuracy of voting machines in the district, in addition to confusion over the state’s changing congressional map later this year, according to two sources familiar with the process, granted anonymity to discuss ongoing plans that have not been finalized.

State law does not require an automatic recount in congressional races, even when the margin is this close: Lamb currently leads Saccone by 0.2 percentage points, 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent. But Saccone and his allies can request a recount after all the counties have completed their tallying of provisional and overseas military ballots.

One Republican source said the party’s legal strategy focused on three Continue reading “Republicans prepare for recount in Pennsylvania special election”

Crucial Pa. special election hurtles to dramatic finish

CANONSBURG, Pa. — Voters went to the polls Tuesday for a special congressional election in the heart of western Pennsylvania Trump country that could deliver a gut-punch to Republicans facing an increasingly hostile midterm environment.

Conor Lamb, a former federal prosecutor and Marine veteran, is squaring off against Rick Saccone, a Republican state legislator and Air Force veteran. The pair is running to replace former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who announced his resignation amid a sex scandal last year. Polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

For Republicans, it’s been an all-out push to drag Saccone across the finish line. President Donald Trump rallied in the district twice, hoping to pump up GOP turnout, while Republican outside groups poured more than $10 million into the race. Other surrogates from the Trump orbit — like Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway — also visited the predominately Continue reading “Crucial Pa. special election hurtles to dramatic finish”

What to watch in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH — Republicans want to avoid an embarrassing loss in Trump country, Democrats are hoping for a narrative-setting victory — and it’s all for a special election in a district that won’t exist in a few months.

Tuesday’s results in the race between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb will provide clues on the midterm season ahead, specifically how bad it might be for President Donald Trump and the GOP. Trump carried the district by 20 points in 2016; a loss in the special election would disastrous to the party’s fading hopes of holding the House.

In response, Republican outside groups have unleashed millions in TV ads to damage Lamb, who’s cast himself as a centrist Democrat and vowed not to back Nancy Pelosi if he’s elected.

A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed Lamb with a single-digit lead. So far, Democrats have largely outperformed turnout in regular and Continue reading “What to watch in Pennsylvania”

Top takeaways from the Texas primary

The 2018 midterms kicked off in eye-opening fashion in Texas Tuesday, as a series of surprises in Democratic House primaries jolted the landscape while the party’s large turnout sent a warning to Republicans nationwide.

But the GOP remained in the driver’s seat in statewide races throughout Texas by night’s end, leaving most of the shocks to down-ballot races.

Washington Democrats saw some of their runoff plans go down the drain. Well-funded candidates fell in contest after contest. George P. Bush unexpectedly cruised to victory. And women kept on winning.

With lawmakers across the country closely eyeing Tuesday’s contests for hints of what’s to come this year, those results and others provided a series of vivid lessons.

Here are POLITICO’s six takeaways from the first primaries of 2018:

Democratic enthusiasm is real, but may not be enough in Texas

It’s a familiar pattern by now: every few years, Democrats insist they’re Continue reading “Top takeaways from the Texas primary”

Polls close in Texas

Voters in Texas fired the starting pistol of the 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday, going to the polls to choose nominees for governor, a Senate seat and 36 congressional districts — including a handful of races that could determine which party controls the House next year.

The Texas primaries are setting up as a crucial, first test of national Democrats’ strategy to muscle out candidates it sees as weaker in the general election, potentially threatening the party’s quest to recapture Congress. And both parties will be closely monitoring turnout trends — especially following a surge of Democratic voters casting their ballots early, either in person or by mail — to determine whether the Texas primaries are the latest harbinger of spiking Democratic enthusiasm in the first nationwide elections under President Donald Trump this fall.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/7 p.m. Central, except in the far western Continue reading “Polls close in Texas”

5 things to watch in the first primary of 2018

The road to the House majority begins Tuesday in Texas, where Democrats must cull crowded candidate fields in the first primary election of 2018.

Early voting numbers suggest high levels of enthusiasm on the left, particularly in historically Republican, suburban districts around Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

But the party needs nominees who are well-suited to take on longtime GOP incumbents in these places in what will be the first test of House Democrats’ strategy to negotiate crowded party primaries.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already tried to scuttle a candidate it views as a weaker general-election prospect in a Houston-area district. But that candidate, activist Laura Moser, could advance on Tuesday despite the committee’s involvement.

Texas has a runoff threshold: Candidates must earn a majority of the vote in order to clinch the nomination, or the top two finishers will advance to a second round of voting Continue reading “5 things to watch in the first primary of 2018”

Republican challenge to Pennsylvania map likely to fail

President Donald Trump wants Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the implementation of a court-drawn congressional map that threatens a half-dozen GOP-held seats this November, but most operatives and experts see little hope in a legal challenge to the new districts.

Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington say they’re moving ahead with legal action to stop the new map. But, behind the scenes, Republican consultants are already urging their clients to get ready for these new districts in 2018.

“I’m advising my clients to prepare for the worst-case scenario: that these are the maps this year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant based in Pennsylvania.

The state Supreme Court, which released the new map on Monday, had ruled the previous district lines violated the commonwealth’s constitution as an improper Republican gerrymander. Because the issue is a matter of state law, legal experts say Republicans are unlikely to find judicial recourse in federal courts.

Continue reading “Republican challenge to Pennsylvania map likely to fail”