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Special election: Where Rick Saccone, Conor Lamb stand on key issues

| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 12:04 a.m.
Conor Lamb (left) and Rick Saccone were mobbed by reporters at their voting precincts Tuesday morning.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb (left) and Rick Saccone were mobbed by reporters at their voting precincts Tuesday morning.

The hard-fought battle between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb ends today as voters decide who will replace former Congressman Tim Murphy in Pennsylvania's 18th District.

Lamb, 33, of Mt. Lebanon, is a Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor.

He's pitched himself as a Southwestern Pennsylvania Democrat with an independent streak, unbeholden to the national party or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Saccone, 60, of Elizabeth, is a member of the state House of Representatives.

He described himself as "Trump before Trump was Trump," touting his conservative bona fides and his experience as an Air Force veteran, a state lawmaker and in the private sector.

Here's where they stand on a few key issues:

Gun control:

• Lamb said he doesn't support proposals by fellow Democrats to ban certain weapons. He thinks lawmakers should emphasize enforcing existing regulations.

"The laws we have on the books are pretty good. … Our enforcement of background checks is pretty flawed. ... We need to put teeth and enforcement into those laws," he told the Tribune-Review March 1.

• Saccone is a strong proponent of gun rights who opposes most gun-control proposals, including raising the minimum age for purchasing certain types of weapons from 18 to 21. He supports arming teachers to improve school security.


• Saccone supports the major tax bill passed by Congress late last year.

In an interview with the Tribune-Review last week, he said he would fight for lower taxes, lower spending and fewer regulations on private businesses.

"We need to gain accountability of a huge bureaucracy that doesn't spend our money wisely," he said.

• Lamb opposes the tax bill, saying it gives the rich a huge tax cut that is expected to increase the federal deficit.

The middle-class could have been given a tax cut by closing loopholes exploited by the rich, he said.

"We could have done that without adding a penny to the debt," he said.

The opioid epidemic:

• Lamb has proposed expanded treatment options for addicts, stepping up the war on opioids imported from China and Mexico and making pharmaceutical companies pay for the damage done by the widespread abuse of opioids.

• Saccone said he has supported numerous bills dealing with the opioid epidemic as a state lawmaker, but he said fighting the problem will take widespread effort from numerous stakeholders.

"It's not just a legislative problem, and it's not just a law enforcement problem. It's an all-hands-on-deck problem," he said.

Other priorities:

• Saccone lived for a year in North Korea, and said his experience would make him a valuable addition to foreign policy discussions.

• Lamb has proposed bolstering Social Security and Medicare, and an infrastructure program to repair failing bridges, locks and dams.

The 18th District — which includes parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington and Greene counties — became an open seat in October, when Murphy of Upper St. Clair resigned amid a marital scandal.

Whoever wins will serve out the remainder of Murphy's term, which expires at the end of this year.

It is unclear whether the 18th district will exist in its current form by the time November's election rolls around. A proposed redistricting map drawn by the state Supreme Court shows the 14th District swallowing much of the territory currently occupied by the 18th. Lamb lives in the proposed 17th District and Saccone lives in the proposed 18th District. Despite the uncertain future of the district, national organizations have been spending big money on the special election.

Outside groups have spent more than $10 million — mostly on TV ads — to support Saccone. Other groups have spent roughly $1.6 million to support Lamb.

Lamb had raised about $3.8 million on his own. Saccone has raised about $900,000, according to campaign finance reports.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To make sure you live in the 18th District and can vote, you can use this online House database.

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