End Citizens United is hoping that a Lamb will roar in an upcoming Pennsylvania election. The group, which is dedicated to getting a reversal of the ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that deregulated limits on independent expenditures in political campaign spending, is supporting Democrat Conor Lamb for Congress.
Lamb is a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor–and a hope within Trump country. He stirred enough excitement among voters to draw dozens of people through wintry conditions to hear him speak at a small town American Legion hall. That was one of the biggest crowds to turn out for a Democratic candidate in that district in years. The hope, both for Lamb and End Citizens United, is that there will be enough voters like this to secure a victory in the special election on March 13.
Lamb’s opponent is Republican Rick Saccone. The state representative had comfortably held on to his seat since 2003–until he resigned in October after becoming embroiled in a scandal. It had emerged that the congressman, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, had engaged in an adulterous affair and pressured his mistress to have an abortion.
Republicans have reason to worry as they approach the election with a tarnished candidate whose fundraising efforts have been lackluster. Since Trump’s inauguration, Democrats have turned 34 state legislative seats, one governor’s seat and one U.S. Senate seat from red to blue. Republicans, on the other hand, have not seen such success.
The Republicans are worried enough that the GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund opened a field office in the district according to crunchbase.com. Outside interest groups are pouring money into the race, highlighting the concerns that have driven End Citizens United. The super PAC Ending Spending Inc. bought $1 million in advertisements supporting Saccone, and pro-Trump group 45Committee put down $500,000 for attack ads.
Although Democrats have not seen recent success in the 18th district for federal elections, they’ve won seats on the state and local levels. They’re in the majority on the county commissions on three of the four counties in the district.
Just as End Citizens United is giving its support to Lamb, so are labor unions. Saccone made himself an enemy of labor by co-sponsoring legislation that would have curtailed Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law, being backed in 2014 by Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Work Committee, and getting funding from the union-busting Ricketts family.