WASHINGTON, Pa. — A 33-year-old former federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh and Marine veteran from a political family became the Democratic nominee Sunday for next year's special election to complete the term of an anti-abortion Republican congressman who resigned in a scandal.
Democrats in Pennsylvania chose Conor Lamb, a first-time candidate and Marine veteran, as their nominee for the March 13 balloting to replace former eight-term U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, who resigned last month after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, his hometown newspaper, reported that he had suggested to a mistress that she get an abortion.
Lamb, the nephew of Pittsburgh's elected city controller, beat out six others in a vote by party committee members from southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th District at a meeting at Washington High School. The district represents parts of Pittsburgh's suburbs, southwestern Pennsylvania's gas drilling fields and areas once dominated by steel and coal.
In a statement, he vowed to fight Washington's "anti-middle class, anti-American agenda."
"People in our district are sick and tired of being lied to by hypocrites who promise us jobs but never deliver, promise us health care then try to take it away, promise to protect Medicare and Social Security then try to gut these programs to pay for corporate tax cuts," Lamb said. "I'm going to expose that hypocrisy."
Lamb left the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh, where he was an assistant U.S. attorney, before he declared his candidacy last month.
He faces an uphill climb to victory.
Republicans drew the 18th District for Murphy, carving a Republican-friendly district out of Democratic districts representing shrinking western Pennsylvania when the GOP controlled the Legislature and governor's office in 2002. The district still has more registered Democrats in it than registered Republicans, but it votes reliably for Republicans in an area where Democrats often embrace gun rights and oppose abortion rights.
In last year's presidential election, Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 3-to-2 margin. Clinton didn't even break 40 percent. By his eighth term, Murphy routinely coasted to re-election, and even ran unopposed the last two elections.
Republicans last weekend picked state Rep. Rick Saccone, 59, a retired Air Force captain and one of the Legislature's most conservative and outspoken members.
Next year's primary and general elections will determine who holds the seat in the 2019-20 term.