Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District occupies a southwest chunk of the state that has been solid Republican territory for decades. Hillary Clinton pulled a dismal 38% of the vote here in the 2016 presidential race.
But Democrats are suddenly feeling good about their chances to flip this seat in a March 13 special election. For one thing, the seat was vacated by scandal. Republican Congressman Tim Murphy resigned in disgrace after an extramarital affair that came with a lot of additional sleazy details.
Another reason for optimism is the candidate the Democrats are running – the young and telegenic Conor Lamb, a former Marine officer and Assistant U.S. Attorney with an impressive record of public service and policy achievements.
His opponent is a decidedly hackneyed politician. He’s a Pennsylvania state lawmaker Rep. Rick Saccone, an ultraconservative Trump supporter backed by truck loads of out-of-state campaign cash. Since the election, Trump’s popularity has plunged in the 18th.
Now Conor Lamb is getting an even bigger shot in the arm from a big-ticket national political action committee called End Citizens United. The group is fresh off a major victory in the Alabama U.S. Senate race that pitted Trump Republican Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones. Jones won in a state where many believed it was impossible for any Democrat to prevail.
End Citizens United is backing Lamb because he strongly supports the PAC’s goal of getting big money out of politics. The group formed in 2015. It took its name from the now infamous 2010 Supreme Court decision known as the Citizens United ruling. What the conservative-dominated Supreme Court did was basically open the floodgates to unlimited amounts of “dark money” to flow into our election system.
End Citizens United has a long-term goal of overturning the Supreme Court decision which determined that a corporation was the same as a “person” and that free speech is the equivalent of “money.” The corrupting influence of billions in corporate cash has brought devastating result to fair and free elections in America. More and more, the average voter is being disenfranchised because billionaires and corporations can essentially “buy” any candidate they want.
Taking back the U.S. House from Republicans is an absolutely critical step toward End Citizen United’s goal of passing an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would negate the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling. Electing Conor Lamb to Pennsylvania’s 18th District would be a key pick-up for Democrats.
You may also read https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/how-to-reverse-citizens-united/471504/ for more.