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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He lost narrowly, but Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone is now a household name.
But that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to win the new 14th Congressional District, his Republican challenger state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
“He not only lost. We squandered $11 million, and the Democrats have turned the tide on Republicans. This loss had national ramifications, and it all started with the debacle that was this last election,” he said.
Delano: “Is Rick Saccone an embarrassment to the Republican Party?”
Reschenthaler: “Put it this way, he embarrassed everyone in southwestern Pennsylvania with the last campaign.”
Reschenthaler is taking on Saccone, who lost to Conor Lamb, in a new district that includes counties Saccone won like Washington, Greene, Westmoreland, to which Fayette County has been added.
The South Hills senator says many Republicans want an alternative to Saccone, like U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey who just endorsed Reschenthaler.
“I’m a conservative, I’m an Iraq war vet, and I’m a new voice for Washington,” Reschenthaler said. “My opponent is none of those things. I’m a leader. He’s a career politician. I refuse to take per diems. He’s taken over $400,000 worth of per diems. The distinctions are clear. I’m the way ahead. He is not.”
On policy issues, both lawmakers sound alike, but Reschenthaler claims, “I have a track record in Harrisburg of getting things done, of being pragmatic in representing my district. He does not. I also bring a new vision to the party, and I’m going to do that in DC.”
On gun safety, for example, he echoes Toomey’s position, adding he’d ban bump stocks.
“A ban on bump stocks would make sure that we continue the spirit of the law of not having fully automatic weapons,” says Reschenthaler.
But the 35-year-old stresses his generational difference with 60-year-old Saccone.
“I come from a new generation. I’m the future. I’m the way ahead. He, as we just saw in the last election, is not,” Reschenthaler said.
It’s not clear whether Republicans in general blame Saccone for losing to Lamb as much as some Republican leaders do.
But, clearly, Reschenthaler is offering himself as a new kind of conservative Republican.
One thing they share in common — neither lives in the 14th, but both pledge to move if they win.
As for the embarrassment charge, Saccone’s campaign said that Reschenthaler was resorting to negative tactics and essentially attacking everyone from the president on down who supported Saccone in the recent special election.