A Pennsylvania House special election has Republicans so panicked that they have resorted to attacking their own candidate.
On television, it’s basically the Kennedy versus Nixon debate dynamic as GOP candidate Rick Saccone struggles to be nearly as telegenic as his Democratic opponent Conor Lamb. Unlike Saccone, Lamb is youthful, attractive, and more charismatic. Saccone, meanwhile, is older, slouchier and brags about being Trump-like in his demeanor.
More importantly, Saccone is finding it more difficult to raise campaign funds and has relied heavily on RNC handouts.
It’s a difficult position for the Republican party to be in, especially since this is only a special election and it’s the November 2018 midterm election that Republicans should be focused on. But thanks to a Democratic sweep in the last several special elections, a loss in this race feels like a harbinger of doom.
The party’s frustration is starting to show because Republicans are starting to attack and pressure their candidate.
According to Politico:
Shortly after the new year, Rep. Steve Stivers, the House GOP campaign chief, delivered a stern message to Rick Saccone, the party’s special election candidate in Pennsylvania.
You need to start pulling your weight, Stivers implored Saccone, the mustachioed 60-year-old state legislator who is carrying the weight of the Republican Party in a crucial contest next week.
Stivers’ warning, described by two people familiar with the discussion, was intended to put the candidate on notice. The national GOP would be helping him out substantially, Stivers said. But if Saccone didn’t start upping his fundraising game and getting his sluggish campaign in order, he could lose a race that should be a gimme for the party.
So far, Lamb has outraised Saccone by a 5 to 1 margin, which has Republicans complaining about the “quality” of their candidate.
“In a tough political environment, candidate quality matters more than ever,” former National Republican Congressional Committee aide Ken Spain said. “In an anti-GOP year — which this is shaping up to be — the Republican candidates will need to run much stronger campaigns or be prepared for the national party to cut them loose.”
Spain’s remarks are bad news for Saccone, who has not only had to rely on the party of funding but also the willingness of national Republican figures to show up on his behalf. President Donald Trump even took some heat when he showed up at an event for Saccone. Primarily because he tried to bill it as a non-political trip that taxpayers would have to pay for instead of having the national party reimburse the costs.
Trump is scheduled to appear with Saccone at an event this weekend, but he is reportedly being advised to drop out because Saccone is three points behind Lamb in a district that Trump won by 20 points in 2016. Regardless of whether he shows up or not, a loss in this race would be embarrassing to Republicans and Trump, and it would set the stage for November as the GOP braces itself for a bloodbath that could cost them both the House and the Senate.
Watch as they debate gun control: