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Loyalty to the president vs. to the union: The Pennsylvania special election

The Pennsylvania special election of 2018 tested the loyalties of a deep red state and revealed a new preference of blue collar workers with the success of Democrat Conor Lamb in the 18th District.

When considering the severely Republican history of this Pennsylvania district, it is understandable why this success comes as a surprise to the country and GOP. However, Hillary Clinton’s failure in such regions may have something to do with this change of waters. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign failed to connect with the working class, specifically in Pennsylvania, costing her the election.

Democratic centrist rep. Lamb used this campaign changed the tactics during his campaign by ensuring a constant connection with a gateway group, the Steelworkers Union.

“You’ve been the heart and soul of this  campaign,” Lamb told the Steelworkers Union at a rally in Pittsburgh. 

Lamb and his Steelworkers supporters at a rally
Photo Courtesy of WBUR

By appealing to the dissatisfied middle class, Lamb slowly but surely leveled out the voting polls. The underdog Democrat grabbed any opportunity

 to be successful in a nevertheless right-wing loyal state. While it is true that Lamb’s campaign created friction between the 18th District’s loyalty to the President versus its loyalty to its Union, that alone would not be enough to grant him the seat. However, his neutral stance on controversial “political party issues” was just enough to push him over the edge. Over the course of Lamb’s political endeavors, the former independent hinted at his neutral stance on gun-control and openly supported President Trump’s tariff controls on steel and aluminum. Additionally, Lamb maintained that he is willing to work with the Trump.

Even Republican super-PACs were still not enough to grant Lamb’s competition, Republican Rick Saccone, the seat. Saccone ran a quite traditional Republican campaign and focused his movement towards criticizing and proposing new outlets for welfare spending. He was endorsed by Trump, and similar to his opponent,  made several promises to remain allies with the President. The Pennsylvanian working classes’ support of new worker policies over government spending policies diffused momentum for the right wing.

 Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district has been run by right wing policies since 2003, under Tim Murphy. It is not easy to tell whether or not Lamb would have still won the election had he not ran his campaign more as a centrist despite his democratic label, but nonetheless, the 18th congressional district of Pennsylvania has a new face in town.

About Sarah Kadous

Sarah Kadous
Sarah Kadous is a 15 year old political activist from San Diego, CA. When she's not practicing her violin, running, protesting or snacking on strawberries, Kadous writes, writes and writes.

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