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Thursday September 20th, 2018 4:27PM

The Latest: Both PA candidates have presidential backing

By The Associated Press
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CARNEGIE, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on western Pennsylvania's special election in the 18th Congressional District:

12:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump isn't the only candidate tweeting for his preferred candidate in a western Pennsylvania special congressional election.

AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka is weighing in on behalf of Democrat Conor Lamb. Trumka tells union voters Lamb "supported our agenda" so "now it's time to ... support him."

The labor vote will be key in determining whether Lamb can upset Republican Rick Saccone in a district with an estimated 87,000 union household voters.

Former Republican Tim Murphy enjoyed union backing in the district, making it hard for any Democrat to defeat him. Rank-and-file workers helped Trump carry the district by 20 percentage points in 2016.

But unions have lined up behind Lamb and hammered Saccone as a union foe during his tenure as a state lawmaker.

___

10:40 a.m.

Republican Rick Saccone says he's not surprised he's in a close race with Democrat Conor Lamb in a southwest Pennsylvania congressional district that President Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.

He says Democrats are "throwing everything they can at this race" because it's a rare open seat.

Saccone spoke to reporters shortly before casting his ballot Tuesday near his home in rural Allegheny County south of Pittsburgh.

The 60-year-old state lawmaker has struggled to win the support that former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy managed during his career. Murphy resigned in October.

Saccone has tried to excite voters by embracing Trump. The candidate campaigned with him twice.

A Lamb upset would boost Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections. Republicans have a 24-seat advantage in the House pending the outcome in Pennsylvania.

___

8:30 a.m.

Democrat Conor Lamb has voted in Pennsylvania's special election for the 18th Congressional District. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted his support for Republican Rick Saccone.

Lamb told reporters Tuesday he doesn't think the election is a referendum on President Donald Trump.

Trump won the Pittsburgh-area district handily in 2016, but Tuesday's race is said to be a toss-up.

On Tuesday, the president tweeted, "The Economy is raging, at an all time high, and is set to get even better. Jobs and wages up. Vote for Rick Saccone and keep it going." Trump had appeared at a rally for Saccone over the weekend.

Lamb has positioned himself as a moderate and could offer a roadmap for other Democratic candidates running in areas outside liberal strongholds.

The winner replaces Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned in October amid a sex scandal

Lamb declined to make any predictions about the outcome, but said his team "worked really hard."

__

7 a.m.

Polls are open in western Pennsylvania as voters settle a high profile special congressional race being watched for clues to the upcoming midterm elections.

Republican Rick Saccone is trying to stave off an upset by Democrat Conor Lamb in a Pittsburgh-area district that backed President Donald Trump by 20 percentage points in 2016.

Former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy had represented the area. He resigned last fall.

Democrats need to flip 24 Republican-held seats for a House majority, and they'd not been counting on Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.

Trump has put his full force behind Saccone.

Lamb has a run as a moderate with considerable union backing. That's a key group in this industrial region. Lamb has also promised not to back Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for House speaker.

___

12:40 a.m.

Voters in western Pennsylvania are set to choose between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb in a special congressional election that could offer signs of what's to come in November's midterm elections.

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

President Donald Trump dominated the district in 2016 and has offered his backing to Saccone.

But the Republican nominee finds himself risking an upset that would rattle GOP confidence as it tries to defend its House majority. The White House has blamed the potential loss on Saccone.

Lamb has positioned himself as a moderate and could offer a roadmap for other Democratic candidates running in areas outside liberal strongholds.

The winner replaces Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned in October amid a sex scandal.

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