Conor Lamb and Rick Saccone

The race between Democrat Conor Lamb and incumbent Republican Rick Saccone for western Pennsylvania’s 18th District will possible come right down to the wire. Tuesday’s particular election might be one more proving floor for what sort of insurance policies can win within the age of President Donald Trump. A variety of candidates throughout the nation operating underneath the auspices of teams like Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, and the Democratic Socialists of America have run progressive platforms to nice success. There have been different candidates like these put up by the Democratic Congressional Marketing campaign Committee and endorsed by extra institution organizations who’ve caught to the 2016 Democratic occasion line to various levels of success.

Conor Lamb is testing one other concept: what if a pro-union Democrat ran like a Republican?

It’s straightforward to see Lamb’s motivation. Within the space of Western Pennsylvania Lamb hopes to symbolize, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 20 factors, and Mitt Romney carried it by an identical margin. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Penn.) was about as conservative as they arrive and loved fifteen years representing the district earlier than he was pressured to resign following allegations that the pro-life politician pressured his mistress into having an abortion.

Whereas centrist or “blue canine” Democrats are nothing new, the mannequin of such figures is usually fiscally conservative and socially liberal like Jon Ossoff, who failed in his bid to take Georgia’s 4th District final summer season. Lamb, nonetheless, is form of the alternative. Not solely is he a social conservative, he leans to the proper on atmosphere, girls’s rights, enlargement of social applications, and even help for the Democratic caucus. Whereas he helps the unions and Medicare, he’s in opposition to most of the progressive financial insurance policies that some Democrats see as important for America’s future.

Lamb’s a Democrat

Earlier than we launch into the place Lamb differs from the occasion, it’s only truthful to speak about the place he aligns with the broader liberal motion in America. His marketing campaign has had two main cornerstones: union help and the protection of Medicare. Lamb is standing agency within the struggle in opposition to union-busting, so-called “proper to work” measures, and Paul Ryan’s push for austerity, which includes steep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare.

However how a lot of a Democrat is he?

Quite than assault Trump, like so many aspiring Democratic politicians this cycle, Lamb has chosen as an alternative to take photographs at Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi. “It’s nothing private,” he advised the Atlantic, “It’s simply that it’s been too lengthy with the identical leaders on each side. However I positively don’t help Paul Ryan both.”

A take a look at Lamb’s different stances on coverage points present simply how a lot distance there may be between the Democratic mainstream and what Lamb believes. The truth is, you’d be hard-pressed to seek out an elected Democrat extra to the proper than Conor Lamb should you put aside the problem of collective bargaining.


Lamb has lengthy held that the best way to forestall mass shootings is to strengthen background checks and make mental-health therapy extra accessible. He’s in opposition to banning any explicit form of firearm, and the mass taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty didn’t change his place.

At a current marketing campaign occasion, Lamb stated, “I imagine we now have fairly good legal guidelines on the books and it says on paper that there are lots of people who ought to by no means get weapons of their fingers … I believe that the feelings that plenty of us are feeling proper now are very uncooked as a result of we all know that there’s not one factor we will do with the stroke of a pen or one factor you’ll be able to ban. We want a complete reply on psychological well being.”

Ladies’s alternative

Lamb, a lifelong Catholic, seems like a reasonable Republican on alternative. He has stated, “I come from a Catholic background, (however) alternative is the regulation of the land.” When requested particular questions relating to funding for abortions and associated companies, Lamb has typically ducked out of clear solutions.

Minimal wage

Although Lamb is pro-union in lots of cases, he truly stands in opposition to quite a lot of unions, together with two of the nation’s strongest, SEIU and UNITE HERE, in his opposition to a $15 minimal wage. The Battle for 15 marketing campaign has been a cornerstone of progressive activism throughout the nation, and Lamb’s opposition places him on the proper of the Democratic Occasion.

At a current debate, Lamb stated, “I believe $15 sounds excessive based mostly on what I’ve been advised by many small enterprise house owners in our space. I’d somewhat see one thing that was agreed on by each side.”


Single-payer healthcare is shortly turning into a litmus take a look at concern for progressive candidates, and in areas like Lamb’s the problem is gaining recognition. Nevertheless, Conor Lamb is against single payer. The Washington Put up summed up his place as, “not prepared for common Medicare.”

On his marketing campaign web site he states, “Republican leaders haven’t even allowed a vote on a bipartisan commonsense effort to strengthen the ACA and stabilize the markets … I’ll work with anybody from both occasion who desires to assist individuals with pre-existing circumstances, enhance high quality of care, and cut back premiums, out-of-pocket prices, and prescription drug costs.”

Pupil debt

Lamb straddles an identical line on pupil debt. Whereas he advocates the “reform of our pupil mortgage system, which proper now forces too many college students right into a lifetime debt lure,” he stops wanting concrete proposals similar to measures to cease predatory for-profit universities or free school.

He says that you must be capable to get an training “with out taking up a long time value of debt,” however the implication by omission right here is that years value of debt is simply effective.


The historic coal and metal manufacturing of Western Pennsylvania has given option to fracking jobs in recent times. Whereas some might think about it electoral suicide to run in opposition to fracking in that space of the nation, the environmental impacts are additionally simple. Moreover, help for fracking doesn’t align with left-leaning priorities like local weather justice and help for Dakota Entry Pipeline protests.

Lamb defines himself as “pro-fracking.” One of many “Priorities” listed on his web site is “Fashionable Power Growth.” To him, which means that the “Authorities shouldn’t be an obstacle to power growth and job creation…”

With pals like these…

Numerous Democrats have stated that litmus assessments are a foul factor. Nevertheless, at a sure level, you need to ask what a Democrat is. If Jon Ossoff and Conor Lamb are each Democrats, then what precisely do the Democrats stand for, besides, after all, opposing Republicans? Moreover, would the depressed citizens be motivated by a extra constant and targeted nationwide occasion?

There are two faculties of thought within the Democratic Occasion. One is that establishing a transparent set of indeniable priorities will create new power, id, and belief within the occasion. The opposite is that flexibility on points on a regional foundation will create a path for a Democratic majority.

A variety of candidates have tried related ways to Lamb in hopes of swaying pink state voters with compromise. Some have succeeded and many have failed. Whereas progressive teams like Our Revolution have produced a wholesome win proportion for Democrats, they’ve additionally had notable losses like Rob Quist in Montana.

Lamb’s candidacy is one more try at shaping the way forward for the Democratic Occasion. Whereas Democrats everywhere in the nation might be rooting for him, if he wins, liberals throughout America could be stunned by how this Democrat casts his votes.

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