PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While not officially congressman-elect, Conor Lamb appears more relaxed these days.
“Feeling great. Thank you, Jon,” Lamb told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
And why not feel great!
So far, the ongoing official tabulations have not helped Republican Rick Saccone overcome Lamb’s narrow but clear lead, and Lamb is expected to be sworn in come April.
KDKA’s Jon Delano Reports:
Delano: “You won this election by three-tenths of one percent. To what do you attribute your victory?”
Lamb: “Hard work. We just really did things the old-fashioned way from the very beginning. We went everywhere all over the district. We met people in person, on their doorsteps, in town halls. And we did it all the time, all day, every day.”
But Lamb knows some specific groups were very helpful to his election, like organized labor.
“These unions are the ones that have stuck up for working people and middle class families for generations,” said Lamb. “I was happy to stand with them from the beginning, and I learned a lot from them about the issues we’re all facing. They really were able to put out a lot of people on the ground to multiply our own efforts.”
Some union members who voted for Donald Trump even switched to Lamb or didn’t vote.
Delano: “What do you owe them?”
Lamb: “Well, I don’t know that I owe them anything other than continued cooperation, friendship, relationship. I want to fight for them because they represent working and middle class people all over this district.”
Another key group for Lamb were suburban women, especially the so-called anti-Trump resistance groups that organized long before Lamb was a candidate.
“They played a big role, a very important role, particularly the organized groups that you’re talking about,” said Lamb. “I was honored to have their support, and like you said, they were out there standing in the cold and rain and building democracy before I ever came along. The fact that they were willing to support me and work so hard was a big part of what it took for us to succeed.”
But Lamb knows that last Tuesday, he won election in the 18th congressional district, and a week later, he’s running in the 17th congressional district.
Delano: “It’s got to be a little weird. You’ve just won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and today you have to file to run for reelection.”
Lamb: “It’s unusual, but we knew all along that this is what the calendar looked like.”
The 18th district includes the southern part of Allegheny County and Westmoreland County and Greene and Washington counties.
But the 17th district stretches north and west through Allegheny County, Beaver County, and Cranberry in Butler County.
Delano: “Will the folks in Washington County, Greene County, and Westmoreland County ever see you again?”
Lamb: “Absolutely. I have been saying for the last six months that I campaigned for this seat to represent the people of the 18th district, them alone, and that is exactly what I am going to do. They will see me more than they have probably ever seen a congressman before.”
But Lamb knows he also has to campaign in the 17th district, 80 percent of which is brand new to him.
So far, two Democrats are challenging Lamb in the May primary: Beth Tarasi, a Sewickley attorney, and Ray Linsenmayer, a financial consultant from McCandless.
Both may go after Lamb for not being a progressive Democrat.
Delano: “Do you think a candidate who runs to your left in the Democratic primary can be successful?”
Lamb: “I don’t know. To me, it’s not really running left or right. It’s running straight at the voters.”
But Lamb’s focus is on the incumbent Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus in a race pundits call a toss-up.
“We’re going to continue to talk about the issues of infrastructure development, jobs, protecting social security and Medicare,” said Lamb. “And I don’t think my opponent in this race will be able to say the same thing.”
Unlike the special congressional, Lamb, assuming he’s the Democratic nominee, and Republican Rothfus will have months to go after each other until November.