Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Union households make up nearly a quarter of the district's voting population where the IBEW alone has nearly 5,000 members.
"In special elections, turnout is always low and it all comes down to who gets their people to the polls," said IBEW Political Director Austin Keyser. "Organized labor has a lot of power and even more at stake."
The election pits Conor Lamb, a political newcomer and Marine Corps veteran who says he is proud of the state AFL-CIO's endorsement against state Rep. Rick Saccone, one of the leaders of the state's small, vocal group of right-to-work supporters.
"Lamb is good, young, aggressive and articulate. He will be a leader that will carry an agenda for working families," said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder. "Saccone wouldn't even fill out our candidate questionnaire. His voting record earned him a score of zero on our rating of votes important to working families. He isn't just your typical anti-worker politician - he's worse."
The special election was called after it was revealed that former Rep. Tim Murphy, a pro-life Republican, pressured his mistress to have an abortion. The eight-term congressman resigned last October.
Whoever wins the race will face another election in the fall when Murphy's term would have ended and his opponent will be chosen in a primary May 15.
Murphy was a Republican, but, on labor issues, he bucked his party.
"We lost a real gem in Murphy," said Pittsburgh Local 29 member Mike Sowko, a former longtime member of the local's executive board. "He was good with labor. He had a nice balance on issues."
Murphy was a reliable supporter of organized labor, prevailing wage laws, and collective bargaining rights. He even won the endorsement of Local 29 and the state AFL-CIO in his last election.