Conor Lamb, Rick Saccone ramping up campaigns in special U.S. House race
U.S. House candidates Conor Lamb and Rick Saccone say they plan to campaign aggressively through the holidays and winter to make their cases to voters before a March 13 special election.
Lamb, 33, a former federal prosecutor and Marine Corps veteran from Mt. Lebanon, won the Democratic nomination Sunday to run for the 18th Congressional District seat, which represents about 707,000 people in parts of Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland and Greene counties. Saccone, 59, a state representative from Elizabeth Township, got the GOP nod the previous weekend.
The special election is being held to fill the seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican from Upper St. Clair who resigned last month following revelations about an extramarital affair.
Since celebrating his nomination with an event at The Saloon in Mt. Lebanon, Lamb said he and his campaign have been working nonstop. By Tuesday, he said, he had met with other candidates who sought the Democratic nomination, union officials and state and local party representatives in an attempt to shore up their support.
Soon he’ll set his sights on knocking on would-be constituents’ doors to introduce himself, along with church appearances and public speaking events, he said. He said the “expeditionary mindset” he developed during his time in the military will drive his campaign approach.
“I plan to be on the road at all times, meeting people where they live,” he said.
Lamb, who is new to politics, left his job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh to campaign for the congressional seat.
Saccone said he was a political newcomer when he knocked on 18,000 doors during his successful campaign for state House in 2010.
He credits that legwork, sometimes adding up to six hours a day in the summer heat, for his win.
In addition to his legislative duties in Harrisburg, Saccone said he’s been attending community events and speaking in front of as many people as he can since winning the Republican nomination.
“We’re in full-bore campaign mode. We are out doing everything we can possibly do,” he said.
Saccone said his campaign message hasn’t changed since 2010. He said he’s still advocating for “smaller government, less government regulations, cutting taxes, cutting spending.”
Saccone teaches political science part-time at Latrobe’s Saint Vincent College and has written several books about the Korean peninsula. He spent much of a career in the Air Force stationed in South Korea.
Lamb identified his top issues as infrastructure, affordable health care and combating the opioid epidemic. He tackled drug-related crime as an attorney from 2014 to this year.
He called the opioid crisis, which killed about 4,600 Pennsylvanians in 2016, “a matter of life and death for people of my generation and their families,” adding, “I don’t look at it through a political lens. I look at it as a true threat.”
Neither candidate specified when they would start running TV ads. Lamb said he didn’t expect to run them until after the end of the year.
Lamb has hired campaign manager Abby Nassif Murphy. She said she’s worked on local, state and national political campaigns since 1999, including Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign last year.
Saccone hired Patrick Geho, who worked on the 2000 campaign of former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods and served as a legislative director under former Govs. Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett.
Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, email@example.com or via Twitter .