The Chaos Report: Huge Victory By A Thread (Probably) For Democrat In Western Pennsylvania
Democrat Connor Lamb Claims Win, Would Knock Off Trump-Backed Candidate
No news organization has confirmed him the winner yet. That’s because Lamb’s margin of victory over victory over Republican Rick Saccone is just a few hundred votes out of 227,000 cast. Here’s a snapshot of how things looked this morning from CNN Politics:
Even though it says 100% in, absentee ballots are still being tallied, and provisional ballots are still being considered. And, according to the Washington Post, there are still more of those out there than Lamb’s current margin of victory. Still, Saccone would have to win a huge percentage of those remaining votes to pull out a miracle comeback.
According an update at 5:30 AM from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the tally of absentee ballots in Washington County show the Democrat winning those by a slight margin; something of a surprise since the Republican took that county handily in live voting. So that bodes well for Lamb in the oddly shaped voting district (designed to favor Republicans).
A recount now is almost inevitable, but if margins hold similar to what they were in live voting, the former Marine and Federal Prosecutor just may have narrowed Republicans’ lead in the House by 1.
Lamb declared victory early this morning: the former Marine came out and told his supporters: “Mission accepted”.
Lamb’s speech today focused on the divisive influence of dark money in political campaigns these days, and his battle plan for overcoming it. You can watch by clicking on the photo below:
Assuming Lamb’s slim margin holds, Republicans have a few paths they can take:
- Petition for a recount, which they almost certainly will.
- Start trying to question the legitimacy of the election and attempt to disqualify votes. A process that would take much longer and be much uglier. However, Republicans spent more than $10-million on this campaign alone, with tons of dark money pouring in, so might not be inclined to give up without tying it up for as long as they can.
At the same time, they’d be fighting for a seat that’s going to be contested again in November. So when does it stop being worth it?
- Working against Republicans is the fact that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which just un-gerrymandered the entire state, does not seem to have an appetite for political shenanigans.
- As much as we hate to say this: race may be an important factor. CNN’s John King points out the entire district is almost completely White, making it difficult for Republicans to make their usual arguments that lots of “illegals” or people without “proper voting IDs” corruptly voted.
Trump barnstormed into the district last weekend to a roaring welcome which may have helped Republican Rick Saccone close what looked like a widening gap, but perhaps not enough. (Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. showed up at various times as well).
Editorial: A Win Here, If It Stays That Way, Is Crucially Important To Democrats, Even More Than They’re Letting On…
Democrats have been spinning it like it’d be a win for them either way, since Trump dominated this district in 2016, and Democrats hadn’t even fielded a candidate for the House here last 2 elections. We don’t agree.
As much as we like Nate Silver, we think he’s ludicrously downplaying the importance of an outright victory when he Tweets:
Because no: what would be tantamount to a “Democrat winning (or tying) a statewide race in Louisiana or Kansas or Montana” would be a Democrat winning (or tying) a statewide race in Louisiana or Kansas or Montana.
Because in every single other special election, (except the one you all know about in Alabama, where Republicans fielded an outlandish candidate), Republicans have won. You may say Democrats have improved margins in almost all of those races compared to the General Election, in wonderful, vast ways. We’d say that doesn’t really matter.
Because only wins count as wins. Theoreticals don’t count as wins. Losses don’t count as wins. Even if they’re the narrowest of all possible losses, they’re not wins. If Trump wins next time by a landslide, he’ll be President. If he wins by 1 vote, he’ll be President.
For Democrats to win, they have to start winning. And with Alabama, and now (maybe) this, looks like that could be starting.
Trump: “Space Is A War-Fighting Domain”
The President making that proclamation, along with a semi-tongue-in-cheek proposal to establish a fighting force in space: a “Space Force”, during a visit to California. The President made it known he doesn’t like California much these days, so he only went to a few places he likes.
Those would be:
- A Marine Corps Air Station
- A fundraiser in Beverly Hills
- “The Wall”. Or at least where they’re building prototypes for “the wall”.
In his speech at the Air Station Miramar in San Diego, which seemed about 50/50 prompter/ad-lib, the President made no reference to his huge personnel shake-up he’d just left behind at the White House. (We checked: not a single mention of Tillerson or the incoming Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.
What Trump did discuss was raising salaries for the military (Guess what? China just raised the salaries of its military too), “the wall” (again), going to war in space, and going to Mars, which for some reason he insisted would’ve had no possibility of happening had Hillary Clinton been elected President.
Here’s a clip (click on the photo to watch):
Trump might want to remember that almost 14 months after taking office, he’s yet to appoint anyone to run NASA. Or maybe that’s another thing he plans to take on himself.
Tillerson Uses His “Farewell” Speech To Warn On Russia
Here’s a clip:
Just the day before, when he still had a job, Tillerson backed up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s assertion that Russia was behind a nerve agent attack on a former spy living in England. Even as the White House refused to. And even now, Trump is non-committal, saying ““As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.”
An approach the Atlantic’s David Frum calls: “Feign uncertainty about what is not uncertain in order to justify inaction”.
As you probably know by now, Tillerson, who’s traveling in Africa, found out about his firing via Trump’s Tweet, same way we did. (Although he may have had some advance warning from Chief of Staff John Kelly that the President would be Tweeting about him, but not precisely what).
Here’s Trump again giving some vague reasons for firing Tillerson and hiring Pompeo, right after he made his decision public (and before he headed West):
Both Pompeo and Gina Haspel, who Trump named to replace him at the C.I.A. must be approved by the Senate. Haspel is a curious choice, mainly because Trump has typically not chosen career officers to fill out his staff; wanting to “leave his own mark”. At the same time, Haspel, as the New York Times bluntly put it: “had a leading role in torture” post 9/11, something Trump’s often spoke approvingly of during his campaign.
Of course mainstream media spent most of the rest of the day all heated up about who’s out next. Or what secret Defense Secretary James Mattis might possess to keep him out of the line of fire. We’ll leave that to them and let you know when something actually happens.
Trey Gowdy, Unlikely Voice Of Reason
That’s the 2nd time we’ve used that headline in the history of our newsletter.
Because the powerful Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who spent much of his tenure going after Hillary Clinton, said he disagreed with the part of the Committee’s report asserting there is no evidence Russia was favoring anybody when it interfered in the 2016 election.
While not seeking to reopen the investigation, or asserting any kind of involvement by Trump or his campaign, according to CNBC, Gowdy issued a statement saying “based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.”
That sent fellow Republican Mike Conaway — who’s compiling the Commitee’s report — backpedaling. He said when he stated there was no evidence Russia was trying to help Trump, he didn’t mean to imply they weren’t trying to hurt Clinton, and that “everybody gets to make up their own mind.” What?
Gowdy is not running for reelection. We’ve shown you his before/after picture before. That’s his official Congressional photo on the left. He’s only been in Washington since 2011.
White House Uses Tillerson Dust-Up As Cover To Shed Another Embarrassment
Trump’s personal assistant or “body man” as they’re often called, it out, after he lost his security clearance, according to the New York Times. We haven’t yet seen a good explanation why. CNN reports it was related to a “serious financial crime investigation”, but doesn’t elaborate.
But John McEntee will land on his feet. Know why we’re so sure? He’s already been hired by the Trump campaign. And we should stop calling it that: because the “Trump campaign” is not a bunch of people waiting til 2020 comes around: they’ll be very active in the 2018 midterms, working either in support of, or in some cases perhaps in conflict with the Republican National Committee. Could be a big story shaping up.
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