Conor Lamb (Getty/Drew Angerer)

New GOP spin: Conor Lamb is a secret Republican!

Republicans are in denial about their big loss in Pennsylvania — and what it means going forward


Sophia Tesfaye
March 14, 2018 4:58PM (UTC)

Conor Lamb, the just-declared Democratic winner of a special congressional election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, was a particularly strong candidate, picking off a deep red district for the first time in decades. But he wasn't a Republican.

Tuesday’s election, the first non-primary federal election of 2018, was a disaster for Republicans. The district — represented by a Republican in Congress for decades and won by Trump by nearly 20 points less than two years ago — voted for a pro-union Democrat who ran ads in defense of Social Security, expanded health care and Medicare. 

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Republicans have been furiously trying to recast Lamb as a one of their own.

"He was a Republican in name, but I can promise you he will vote like a Democrat in Congress," RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said on “Fox & Friends” early Wednesday morning. McEnany insisted that Lamb “adopted pro-Trump talking points” but “the Conor Lambs of the world are a dying breed, if not extinct."

While Lamb came out in favor of Trump’s planned tariffs, he campaigned against the GOP corporate tax cuts.

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Fox News host Laura Ingraham claimed Lamb was in the mold of ultraconservative Sen. Tom Cotton — apparently unaware that the Democrat won the support of labor unions which had previously supported the Republican who represented the district.

Paul Ryan, whose super PAC poured $3.5 million into a district with only 500,000 voters, also described Lamb as a “conservative” on Wednesday. Ryan — who could face Randy Bryce in a November matchup in a more Democratic district than Lamb's — was called out for his efforts to dismantle the social safety net through the Republican tax bill.

But then, the speaker tried to spin Lamb’s success as less of a coming blue wave and more of a lucky fluke.

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“You will have primaries in these other races and the primaries bring them to the left,” Ryan said. “I just don’t think this is something you’ll see a repeat of. "

Calling the race a “one-off” on Wednesday, Republican Rep. Chris Collins repeated a meaningless GOP refrain that Lamb is “pro-gun.” But Lamb, a former Marine, has campaigned for universal background checks.

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Republicans threw all of their resources, including more than $10 million and visits from President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and none of it seemed to make much of a difference.

Ignore the lame GOP spin. Lamb’s win is nothing short of a repudiation of Republicans’ control of the federal government in the Trump era. The blue wave has officially crashed ashore. 

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Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia TesfayeFOLLOW @SophiaTesfaye


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Conor Lamb Elections 2018 Rick Saccone Special Elections

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