GOP Super PAC Makes Push to Keep Pennsylvania Seat

Congressional candidate Rick Saccone greets President Donald Trump in Pittsburgh, Penn. / Getty Images
January 22, 2018

A pro-House Republican super PAC is making a push to maintain the seat recently vacated by former Rep. Tim Murphy (R.) in Pennsylvania's 18th district.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is spending $1.5 million on a television campaign in support of Republican candidate Rick Saccone, Politico reports. Saccone faces Conor Lamb, an attorney who was nominated as the Democratic candidate, in a special election taking place March 13.

Saccone was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2010. During his time there, he sponsored a bill to require public schools to display the words "In God We Trust" on school buildings statewide. He previously described himself as "Trump before Trump was Trump."

The special election was triggered after Murphy resigned last October following reports involving an extramarital affair. Murphy admitted to having an affair, but the allegations went further to claim the pro-life congressman asked the woman he was having the affair with to have an abortion amidst a pregnancy scare.

Murphy's resignation left the seat vacant in a district President Donald Trump won by almost 20 percentage points in the 2016. Trump has been assertive in his support for Saccone, who won the Republican nomination by defeating three other hopefuls.

Last Thursday, Trump tweeted his support for the candidate.

"Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a special election (March 13). Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!"

Trump made an appearance in Pittsburgh later that day where he called Saccone "special." Vice President Pence is scheduled to appear with Saccone at an event on Feb. 2.

Conservative activist groups like Ending Spending and 45Committee are also spending money to support Saccone.

Lamb is taking a different approach to the election. He said he does not support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and other national Democratic leaders have avoided commenting on the election.

The Congressional Leadership Fund's support comes as Republicans face the possibility of losing majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2018. A loss in Pennsylvania's 18th district, where Trump was very successful in 2016, would not bode well for other contested seats later in the fall.