Pennsylvania Special Election: How GOP Could Force Recount and Still Defeat Conor Lamb

The Pennsylvania special election Republicans hoped would end in a decisive victory for Rick Saccone has dragged into its second day, with the Republican candidate trailing behind Democrat Conor Lamb by just a few hundred votes. The only thing that might save the GOP? A forced recount. 

Because the election was a district race, the razor-thin margin doesn’t trigger an automatic recount. But Pennsylvania law leaves room for voters to petition for one, as long as three voters from each precinct file the petition and do so within a five-day limit

The Republican Party has several options it can pursue in court too, according to CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju: They may allege “miscalibrations” of voting machines in Alleghany County, the state’s most Democratic county and a Lamb stronghold, or report that their attorneys were kicked out of the room where the county’s absentee ballots were being counted for 90 minutes. The GOP is also likely to cite alleged troubles with the new Pennsylvania Department of State website.

“We are waiting for provisional ballots to be counted,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Jesse Hunt said in a statement, according to the Hill. “We are not ruling out a recount.”

In the final days of Saccone’s campaign, the GOP operatives seemed to be bracing for a humbling and ominous defeat. On Monday, Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio argued that if Saccone ended up falling short at the ballot box, it would be because he was running in a “Democrat district.” Of course, that’s far from true: President Donald Trump won Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District by 20 points less than two years ago. 

DiGiorgio went on to accuse Lamb of “trying to portray himself as a moderate who goes along with the Republicans on conservative issues,” suggesting that Lamb was running a spurious campaign that might account for why he was neck and neck with Saccone. 

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s election results, conservatives have begun to develop other theories that might explain Saccone’s defeat. 

Wednesday morning, Fox & Friends hosts chalked up Lamb’s slight victory over his opponent to his youthful good looks.

“He is very handsome,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt reasoned. “He’s young, he’s a Marine.”

“I go to Brit Hume to find out what policies matter and sometimes who’s the cuter one,” co-host Brian Kilmeade added. “Absolutely, cuteness counts.”

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