Opinion: Special election in Pennsylvania shows that candidates and circumstances matter

(Sinclair Broadcast Group)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Only a couple of hundred votes separate the Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone in the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th District. It is now up to absentee and provisional ballots, as well as a potential recount.

So, let’s play some Q&A:

Is this a shock after a Republican held this seat since 2003?

No. This particular race is unusual because of the surrounding circumstances. The reason this election happened in the first place is that the sitting congressman, Republican Tim Murphy, resigned in disgrace . That had to depress Republican turnout.

Is this an indication of a democrat wave for the midterms in November?

Not necessarily. There are lessons to be learned for each side. Republicans have to run good candidates with strong fundraising and political operations. Democrats have to run candidates who fit their district. Lamb is a young prosecutor and veteran. He is pro-gun, pro-tariff and anti-Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Lamb basically ran as a moderate Republican in a historically Republican district.

Was this election a referendum on President Trump?

No. The president was not on the ballot. Moreover, Conor Lamb did not run against the president. Lamb specifically declined to criticize President Trump.

Here is the bottom line: there are about eight months to go until the midterms. No matter the final result in Pennsylvania 18th, the takeaway for both parties is that candidates and circumstances very much matter.

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