• Republican party hires independent firm to look for voting irregularities in special election

    Updated:

    UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Sources tell Channel 11's Rick Earle that the Republican party has hired an independent firm to look for voting irregularities in Tuesday's special election.


    RELATED: Why there may not be a recount in the 18th Congressional District race

    The congressional race is too close to call, but Democratic candidate Conor Lamb has declared victory over opponent Rick Saccone in Tuesday’s special election for the 18th Congressional District seat.

    “It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it,” Lamb said.

    Absentee ballots, which were still being counted into early Wednesday morning, will likely decide the tight race.

    “We're still fighting the fight. It's not over yet,” Saccone told supporters.

    In Washington County, the unofficial numbers from the absentee ballots were 609 for Lamb to Saccone’s 547. There are about 90 provisional ballots and 14 outstanding military ballots due by March 20.

    Gov. Tom Wolf released the following statement Wednesday morning on the election, which NBC News is calling an “apparent win” for Lamb:

    “Conor Lamb's win proves that Pennsylvanians want leaders who put the lives of people ahead of party politics. Conor will fight for quality and affordable health care, family sustaining jobs, to rebuild our infrastructure, and to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. I'm thrilled that Conor will continue to be an incredible partner to me and to the people of western Pennsylvania in Congress.

    “Every Pennsylvanian who cast a vote for Conor Lamb, every activist who knocked on a door or called a neighbor, and every supporter who chipped in to fuel this campaign should be so proud of what they have achieved. Congratulations to Conor, his supporters, and the people of western Pennsylvania on their win.”

    Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto also congratulated Lamb, tweeting, “You ran a campaign you should be proud of & I look forward to working with you for the betterment of SW PA.”

    The race has drawn national attention and is seen by some as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

    Political newcomer Lamb showed strength in fundraising and the polls for Democrats, who are seeking to control a seat that has been primarily Republican for decades. 

    The GOP pinned its hopes to Rick Saccone, a four-term state representative who has tied himself very closely to Trump throughout the campaign.


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    The seat opened in October when longtime representative Tim Murphy resigned amid a scandal.

    The district, which stretches through parts of Greene, Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties, could change by May after the state Supreme Court threw out the electoral map in January, saying it was unconstitutional. 

    The court issued a new map intended to take effect by the May primaries, although Republicans have challenged that map in court.


     

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