Keith Rothfus

Supreme Court Spikes Pennsylvania GOP’s Final Hopes Over New Map
Court-drawn map to take effect for 2018 midterms

The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC on December 1, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to block a new congressional map ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

The decision to turn down the application for stay killed the GOP’s final hope to block the lines drawn by the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court after it ruled the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s 2011 map represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

Judges Strike Down Pennsylvania GOP Complaint Over Redrawn Congressional Map
Three-judge federal panel dismisses Republican lawsuit over new court-drawn map

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., is among the lawmakers listed as plaintiffs against the new congressional map in Pennsylvania. He is running for Senate in the Keystone State. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal district court declined a long-shot request Monday from Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to block a new congressional map as the 2018 elections near. The Supreme Court has yet to act on a similar request from the lawmakers.

Eight Republican House members from the Pennsylvania delegation joined Republican state lawmakers as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which a three-judge panel dismissed.

Lamb to Challenge Rothfus in 17th District, Says Local Party Official
Pa. Democrat won special election this week in neighboring district

Conor Lamb, Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th district, greets supporters at an election night rally March 14, 2018 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Lamb claimed victory against Republican candidate Rick Saccone. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democrat Conor Lamb is running in the 17th District against GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus, after winning an upset victory in the 18th District. The news was first reported by the Beaver County Times and confirmed by a local Democratic official. 

The move was expected since Rothfus’ seat became more favorable to Democrats in the recent Pennsylvania redistricting. The state Supreme Court imposed a new congressional map, which is still being challenged in federal court. Under the new lines, President Donald Trump would have won Rothfus’ seat by two points. 

16 Thoughts Without Even Knowing Who Won in Pennsylvania
Inside Elections’ Nathan Gonzales gives decisive takeaways from an undecided contest

Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone, left, and Democrat Conor Lamb was too close to call. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The special election race for Pennsylvania’s 18th District is too close to call, but many of the takeaways are the same, no matter whether Democrat Conor Lamb or Republican Rick Saccone ultimately prevails.

There will be plenty of hot takes on the impact of President Donald Trump on the race. But I think there’s one undeniable truth: If President Hillary Clinton were sitting in the White House, Republicans wouldn’t have been sweating this race. If blaming their nominee helps Republicans sleep at night, then so be it.

Pennsylvania’s 18th District Race Too Close to Call
But Democrat Conor Lamb declares victory over Republican Rick Saccone

Democrat Conor Lamb led late Tuesday in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District late Tuesday, but the race was too close to call. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 12:57 a.m. | A hotly contested special election in southwestern Pennsylvania was too close to call late Tuesday night. Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone were neck and neck as votes were still being counted.

Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former prosecutor, led Saccone, a 60-year-old Air Force veteran, 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent — a difference of 579 votes — with 100 percent of precincts reporting.  

The Fight for a Disappearing District in Pennsylvania
Both parties look for lessons from 18th District special election

Democrat Conor Lamb faces Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Tuesday’s special election in the 18th District. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

MOON, Pa. — Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania — all for a district that likely won’t even exist come November.

Democrat Conor Lamb, a former federal prosecutor, is locked in a tight race with Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016. Whoever wins the 18th District race will head to Congress, but he will run for a full term in a newly configured district, thanks to the state Supreme Court imposing a new congressional map ahead of the midterm elections.

Rating Change: Special Election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Moves to Toss-Up
Democrat Conor Lamb is still standing despite continuous GOP attacks

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone will face off March 13 in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th District. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

“While the Pennsylvania race isn’t getting much attention now, that should change next year, considering all of the 2017 special elections eventually became national stories,” my colleague Leah Askarinam wrote in the Dec. 15 issue of Inside Elections. “By the numbers, the 18th District special election shouldn’t be particularly competitive. But the 2017 slate of special elections demonstrated that every race could turn into a struggle for Republicans, even in favorable territory.”

Orrin Hatch and Staff Have a Day in Court
Utah Republican swears in staffers to Supreme Court Bar

Utah Sen. Orrin G. Hatch had himself a full day at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch used some old connections to get a prime seat at Supreme Court arguments Tuesday — and the Utah Republican also snagged some front-row seats for two staffers who worked on legislation at issue in the case.

Hatch, 83, has been a senator since 1977, and that makes him the second-longest serving member. But almost 10 years before that, in April 1967, he became a member of the Supreme Court Bar, Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said.

Wealth of Congress: 14 Vulnerable Incumbents Are Worth at Least $1 Million
Only one of them has spent money on his own campaign so far this cycle

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is the wealthiest member of Congress considered vulnerable for re-election this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fourteen vulnerable lawmakers were worth at least $1 million at the start of this Congress. These include House incumbents and senators whose November re-election races are rated either Toss-up, Tilts or Leans by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Personal money isn’t always advantageous in a tough campaign, but it can be helpful. Just one of these members has donated or loaned money to their campaign so far this cycle.

New Pennsylvania Map, New Pennsylvania House Ratings
Six races shift in Democrats’ direction, two in GOP’s favor

Under the new lines, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s district shifted from one carried narrowly by President Donald Trump to one carried narrowly by Hillary Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’ve been wondering what political handicapping is like in a redistricting cycle — or it’s been long enough for you to forget — the Pennsylvania Supreme Court offered a good reminder.

With newly drawn districts, misplaced incumbents and new district numbers, confusion is inevitable. But the bottom line for Pennsylvania is that Democrats had a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the old map and they have a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the new map, although they have a distinctly better chance at gaining those seats.