As a political junky in good standing, I, along with my fellow addicts to the dark but necessary art of politics, have my eyes fixed on Pennsylvania today. Pennsylvania? Yes, the southwest corner of the Keystone State, Alleghany County to be precise, where my grandfather on my mother’s side once made a living as a glass blower I’m told.
But that bit of family history has nothing to do with my interest in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. No, a crucial election is being held there today that will tell the nation where it may be headed, an election variously described as “crucial,” “momentous,” “prophetic.”
Why? A little background to explain why this safely Republican district that went for Trump by 19 points in 2016 should be in play today. Tim Murphy, the previous holder of the seat, was so secure in it that the Democrats didn’t even bother running a candidate against him in 2014 and 2016. Then, last year, this Republican in good standing owned up to having an extra-marital affair, and, after impregnating his mistress, that he had urged her to have an abortion. That’s kind of a double no-no in this socially conservative, largely Roman Catholic community. Murphy resigned last October. A special election would have to be held to replace him.
Normally, the district would have remained safely Republican But, as the recent past has told us, nothing is normal about this year. There appears to be a blue wave a-building, and the pollsters are calling the Conor Lamb (D)/Rick Saccone (R) race a tossup. An amateur prophet (amateur in the sense of doing it for love, not for profit), I’m forecasting an upset. Lamb wins by four points. If he does win, you may run out of fingers counting up how many Republican members of Congress suddenly choose to resign over the next few months to spend more time with their families.