HARRISBURG, Pa. — Vice President Mike Pence is coming to help raise money Friday in a congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania widely viewed as a test of whether Republicans can stave off Democratic gains this year.
Pence was scheduled to appear at a rally and fundraiser for Rick Saccone, a 59-year-old Republican state representative and retired Air Force intelligence officer. He’s running in the March 13 special election to replace Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last year in a scandal.
Saccone is facing Democrat Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former federal prosecutor and ex-Marine who reported entering 2018 with more than twice the cash in his campaign account as Saccone, $412,000 to $200,000.
It is the first congressional race of the year and in a district won easily by Republican President Donald Trump in 2016. Now, millions of super PAC dollars are pouring from outside groups to help Saccone, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
That includes nearly $2 million spent on TV ads by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, and another $1 million spent almost entirely on TV ads by two groups — Ending Spending and 45 Committee — supported by Joe Ricketts, a Wyoming billionaire and TD Ameritrade founder.
The Congressional Leadership Fund’s TV ad attacks Lamb as one of House Minority Leader “Nancy Pelosi’s sheep” and “voting the straight liberal party line for Pelosi’s extreme agenda: higher taxes, wasteful spending, job-crushing regulations, a weaker military.”
For his part, Lamb has said that he does not support Pelosi as the House Democratic leader or, for that matter, Ryan as House speaker. Lamb’s campaign also is airing TV ads, leaning heavily on his military service and willingness to work across the aisle in Congress to break gridlock.
“Now Conor Lamb is running for Congress to fight for jobs, health care and Social Security,” the 30-second ad says. “He’s the only candidate who’s refused corporate PAC money. The only candidate who’s said the Democrats and Republicans need new leaders in Congress. … Conor Lamb will work with anyone to get the job done.”