This series of posts is supposed to be about people getting the government they paid for. Sometimes that is not the case. Please follow this humorous story.
Republican Tim Murphy represented Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District until last year. Then he apparently got a woman pregnant (artificial insemination I presume) and subsequently encouraged her to abort the pregnancy. Then, for reasons left for the reader to figure out, he resigned his office. So the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania figured it needed a replacement to represent its 18th district, and a special election was scheduled for the 13th of this month. Democrats pounced.
Eager to get back into the game, maybe even to obtain a majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats put up a candidate to run for the open position. That was Conor Lamb. The Republican Party fielded candidate Rick Saccone.
Saccone is critical of welfare spending and is considered a budget hawk. He supports large-scale cuts to K-12 education, childhood education programs, public libraries, child welfare, and other state programs in order to pay back the federal government’s debt. Saccone’s beliefs are strongly influenced by Christian reconstructionist and author David Barton, who also introduced Saccone’s 2018 special election run.
Yes! Rick Saccone is everything the Republican Party has come to stand for, and his association with Texas religious crank David Barton demonstrates he has well and truly drunk the Kool-Aid.
Conor Lamb is a Marine Corps Reserve officer, having served an active tour as a judge advocate general. Prior to the congressional campaign he was a federal prosecutor.
This was shaping up as an election to define the political landscape for the remainder of the year. District 18, shortly to disappear as lines are redrawn, was represented by Republicans for the past 15 years, and President Trump carried the district by a 20-point margin in 2016. Turning this district would be a grand prize for the Democrats. They poured in the resources. Full disclosure: I have contributed money to the Democratic Party, and I receive several times daily email solicitations for funds. Prior to the election on Tuesday I am sure I received at least a dozen appeals to donate to the District 18 race.
And that’s what this is all about. It’s a prime example of how American politics is about money. There seems to be something about the American voter, maybe voters all over the world. So many do not take a look at the facts available, make a decision, then vote their conclusions. It’s either they must be told how to vote, or else they are prone to follow the most recent and the loudest voice. It’s this latter case where money comes in. Money buys the voice. The more money, the longer and the louder the voice speaks.
And the money came in, not from me. Despite the flood of emails, I kept a tight fist, saving my salvo for a pair of Texas races coming up later this year. But others did. Apparently, Conor Lamb pulled heavily from individual donors like me. Rick Saccone had tremendous outside help. Rather than reconstruct the story from pieces, I am posting what was published on-line by Time.
Republicans and Democrats are employing very different fundraising strategies ahead of the midterm elections, but the results of a special election in Pennsylvania show the GOP strategy may have some drawbacks.
As in other races, a higher amount of Democratic dollars went straight to candidate Conor Lamb, while more Republican money went to outside groups backing state Rep. Rick Saccone. Lamb’s official campaign committee outraised Saccone’s 3 to 1, according to Issue One, a non-partisan group that tracks spending in politics. But outside groups backing Saccone outspent outside groups backing Lamb 6 to 1.
Regarding money raised by Lamb’s campaign, Rick Saccone was quick to mention this. His campaign touted, for voters’ appreciation, his opponent’s fund-raising success. Critically, Saccone failed to mention the tremendous flow of cash from outside sources. That would be money not spent by his campaign but by groups supporting his election. The NRA made its weight felt:
The National Rifle Association has engaged in an under-the-radar spending campaign for Republican candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s Tuesday special election.
It is the only federal political spending the pro-gun group has reported since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., according to FEC reports.
The NRA spent $7,868 in support of Saccone but the money wasn’t seen in a high-profile venture like TV ads or get-out-the-vote efforts. Most of it – $7,532 – was spent on mailings scheduled to be distributed in the district on Monday. The remaining $336 was spent on phone banking earlier this month, according to campaign finance filings.
Nobel Prize laureate Bob Dylan has been noted for pointing out that “money doesn’t talk, it swears.” In this case it whispered. Despite the lop-sided [UNDERSTATEMENT ALERT] spending, Conor Lamb eked out a win by a handful of votes. A recount is in progress, but it’s apparent Mr. Lamb is heading for Washington.
Conor Lamb ran as a conservative Democrat, but Republicans can expect little help from him. While he may vote against the Democrats’ more liberal social ideals, there are a number of things he can be counted on not to do:
- Vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
- Vote funding to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
- Vote to disassemble the Affordable Care Act.
The big difference between Rick Saccone and Conor Lamb is that President Trump did not come to Pennsylvania to campaign for Conor Lamb. He did for Rick Saccone. The Trump brand is daily becoming more toxic, and we are wondering, come November, whether Republican candidates will look to keep their distance from this rogue leader. Having elected a president from the least qualified, Republicans may have come to think they have some sort of mandate, forgetting in the short term that their candidate was the less popular of the two top contenders.
Powerful lobbying groups such as the NRA and high-pocket industrial interests such as the Koch Brothers can be counted to back Republican candidates in the coming months. Whether they will obtain the government they paid for is now open for question.