Pennsylvania Republicans lost their redistricting court fight — and their hope to challenge Conor Lamb’s victory in PA-18 isn’t looking so great either
It’s fair to say that 2018 hasn’t been a great year so far for the Republicans in Pennsylvania.
A long-red congressional seat was flipped blue, leaving egg on the face of a GOP that spent millions on the race and giving Democrats both momentum and a template for November.
The current, heavily gerrymandered congressional map was struck down in court, making it likely that Democrats will gain seats in the state this year.
Beyond that, Democrats have a huge, promising slate of candidates for the House this year, while the Republican incumbents keep retiring — with Ryan Costello, who is only 41 years old, rumored to join them. Meanwhile, none of the GOP candidates challenging Tom Wolf for governor or Bob Casey for Senate have gained any traction so far.
This series of losses for the state’s Republicans come just 16 months after a narrow victory in Pennsylvania helped propel Donald Trump to the White House.
The latest setback for the state GOP, as our Wendy Thurm reported Monday, was a pair of losses in court which dealt a virtually fatal blow to Republican hopes of striking down the new congressional map. The ruling came just in time, as the filing deadline for this year’s primaries is March 20.
Pennsylvania Republicans might try another legal challenge in the 18th District, but it doesn’t appear to have a much better chance of succeeding than the redistricting fight.
While Conor Lamb declared victory and several media outlets named him either the outright winner or “apparent” winner, the election is still not officially over. That’s because provisional and military ballots are still being counted, and there are rumors that Republican Rick Saccone and his supporters might demand a recount or even file suit.
It’s a strange, almost unprecedented situation: according to The Hill, Lamb officially leads by 600 votes — and while that’s not a lot, it’s more than the number of outstanding ballots, and also more than would likely be moved by a recount. Despite lots of whispers about “irregularities,” none of that seems to be sticking, and in fact both Lamb and Saccone have announced their intentions to run again in the upcoming primaries for Congress. But due to the once-in-a-lifetime redistricting, they’re not running against each other.
No, Democrats shouldn’t be complacent. Wolf, Casey, and all of the Democratic congressional candidates should keep fighting, and fighting hard. But it’s hard to remember a state party having a worse year than the GOP in Pennsylvania has had this year.