- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The midterm election year is off to an ugly start for President Trump.

Democrat Conor Lamb’s narrow victory Tuesday for a House seat in Pennsylvania — still unofficial with absentee and other ballots yet to be counted — came in a district that Mr. Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.

Mr. Trump campaigned there last weekend for Republican Rick Saccone. He predicted Mr. Saccone “should win easily, and he is going to win easily.”

Donald Trump Jr. campaigned there. Administration officials from Vice President Mike Pence to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway campaigned for Mr. Saccone.

The Republican Party and conservative groups poured about $10 million into the 18th district race to avoid a Democratic upset.

Democrats said Mr. Lamb’s performance spells bad news for the White House in the midterms.

“That sound you hear is a blue wave approaching,” said Bradley Beychock, president of the liberal super PAC American Bridge, in a memo Wednesday. “The results in Pennsylvania spell disaster for Republicans in November; if they can’t win in a longtime Republican stronghold, no district is safe, especially considering that Republicans nationwide will have to confront the same liabilities that brought Rick Saccone down in Pennsylvania.”

Mid-term elections typically go against the party holding the White House, as Mr. Trump has been warning his base. But the special election in southwestern Pennsylvania took place in “Trump country,” a district the GOP should have held.

Mr. Trump didn’t refer directly to the apparent election outcome on Twitter early Wednesday, instead touting the strong economy.

“Perhaps at no time in history have the business fundamentals of U.S. companies been better than they are today!” the president tweeted.

Former Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said Mr. Saccone ran a poor race.

“The problem for candidates like Rick Saccone is you can’t wait until the 11th hour to become a Trump Republican,” Mr. Miller said on CNN Tuesday night. “He came across as establishment, and I think that was more of the problem.”

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Mr. Lamb “has essentially run as a Republican.”

Protect Our Care, a pro-Obamacare campaign, said exit polling in the 18th district race showed “dissatisfaction with Republicans’ war on health care.”

Voters disapproved of the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by a margin of 53 percent to 39 percent, according to exit polling by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Mr. Saccone supports the repeal of Obamacare, and 41 percent of voters said it made them less likely to vote for him.

“Yesterday’s historic win in Pennsylvania should be the clearest message yet to Republicans that their war on health care is not just a political loser, but an albatross around the neck of any candidate who supports their destructive repeal-and-sabotage agenda,” said Protect Our Care campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

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