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MT. LEBANON, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Before the absentee ballots were completely counted, Democrat Conor Lamb claimed victory over Republican Rick Saccone in a tighter-than-tight Pennsylvania congressional election. Saccone said he wasn’t giving up.
After midnight Tuesday, with all precincts reporting, unofficial results had Lamb leading Republican state Rep. Saccone by fewer than 600 votes.
Saccone took the stage around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night to thank his supporters.
“It’s not over yet. We’re still fighting the fight,” he said. “We’re gonna fight all the way to the end. You know I never give up.”
Lamb spoke to his supporters just before 12:45 a.m. as absentee votes were still being counted.
“It took longer than we thought, but we did it,” he said, even though results had not yet been released.
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Elections officials spent hours counting absentee ballots early Wednesday morning. Their tally added to Lamb’s vote total.
— Meghan Schiller (@MeghanKDKA) March 14, 2018
“I think they are surprising in that it’s been my experience that the absentee vote totals traditionally break the way that the county line vote breaks. Mr. Saccone won Washington County, I believe by 53 percent, I was expecting Saccone to win by that number, but it is what it is,” Attorney Sean Logue said.
Logue attended the tallying on behalf of Saccone’s campaign.
Larry Spahr, Washington County Director of Elections, said everyone in the room realized the importance of the county’s absentee ballots. They counted them one-by-one in alphabetical order by town.
Spahr said the atmosphere in the room was one of “deep concentration.”
“This was really a boiling point and it had all the characteristics for an extremely close election and you saw it today – just like the presidential election in 2000 in Florida,” Spahr said.
The results won’t be deemed official for at least a week.
Elections officials in Greene County counted absentee ballots Wednesday morning. A total of 203 absentee ballots were counted. Of those, Saccone received 107 votes, while Lamb received 93.
Greene County election officials said the votes will now go before the canvassing board on Friday and that could take four days before the totals are deemed official.
In fact, the results across all reporting counties won’t be deemed official for several more days.
Lamb appeared on CNN Wednesday morning. He said he’s confident that he’s Pennsylvania’s newest congressman.
“We have people all over the district following this and they’ve seen a lot of elections here and we feel confident about how it’s going to turn out,” said Lamb.
A consultant with Saccone’s campaign told KDKA-TV reporter Ralph Iannotti, “We’re exploring ALL legal options.”
Regardless of the outcome – and possible recount – Lamb’s showing in a district that President Donald Trump won by 20 points in the presidential race was sure to stoke anxiety among Republicans nationwide and renewed enthusiasm among Democrats.
The ultimate winner will face re-election in eight months, and the congressional district as currently shaped will likely vanish next year thanks to a court-ordered redrawing of the state’s district maps.
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