Cindy Hyde-Smith Gets Appointment to Mississippi Senate Seat
State’s first woman in Congress expected to seek election in November

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the designated successor to Sen. Thad Cochran. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith will be coming to the U.S. Senate next month.

Gov. Phil Bryant formally tapped the Republican agriculture and commerce commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who is poised to go out with a win on an omnibus spending bill. Currently in his seventh term, Cochran is resigning effective April 1 for health reasons. 

Opinion: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again in Southwest Pennsylvania
Republicans still have time to remember the lessons learned

Democrat Mark Critz’s victory in a 2010 Pennsylvania special election ended up being a gift for Republicans, who regrouped to take back the House that fall, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s the scenario. A special congressional election in southwest Pennsylvania becomes the center of national attention as control of the House hangs in the balance come fall. The Democratic candidate runs as an anti-Nancy Pelosi, pro-gun, pro-life candidate concerned with economic issues — in other words, as a centrist.

Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, for the most part, runs a mostly negative ad campaign trying to tie his opponent to Pelosi and her liberal agenda. Both national parties make huge multimillion-dollar investments in the outcome for a district that is going to disappear in a matter of months thanks to redistricting. Meanwhile, the media has upped the ante by declaring this a bellwether race whose outcome will signal whether the minority party is about to win a wave election or the majority will defy the odds and hold on to the House.

Mississippi Governor Expected to Appoint Hyde-Smith to Cochran Seat
Agriculture commissioner would fill seat until November special election

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to be named to resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, according to The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger.

A Republican strategist confirmed Tuesday morning to Roll Call she’s likely to get the appointment Wednesday, but cautioned that the governor’s office hadn’t directly communicated those intentions yet.

House Democrats Punt on Leadership Question After Anti-Pelosi Candidate Wins
Caucus members say individual candidates should decide whether to run on calls for a leadership change

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, hosts a reception in honor of Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, in the Capitol on Wednesday. The Democrats’ most likely new member ran amid promises to not support her as caucus leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After four straight elections falling short of the majority, House Democrats have had their fair share of discussions about their caucus leadership and whether it’s time for a change. But with momentum on their side in the current cycle, they’re not yet ready to revisit those talks — even after the strong special election performance of a Democratic candidate who pledged not to support Nancy Pelosi in another bid for Democratic leader.

Democrat Conor Lamb led Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th District special election, with all precincts reporting but the final outcome still undetermined at press time. Lamb’s expected victory is significant in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016, although Republicans downplayed the chances of Democrats replicating that success in similar districts.

Pennsylvania 18: A Red Flag for the GOP
The margins in a strong GOP district signal November worries for Republicans

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone fought to a virtual draw for Pennsylvania’s open 18th District seat. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

The results in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District confirm problems for Republicans.

The size of the Democratic general election wave is still unclear, but something is happening. Districts won comfortably by President Donald Trump in 2016 are more competitive now, which suggests that districts won by Hillary Clinton are likely to go Democratic in the midterms.

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.  

Democrats Hate America, Trump and God, Rick Saccone Says
PA-18 GOP nominee made comments at campaign rally on special election eve

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone are competing for Pennsylvania’s open 18th District seat. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone accused the Democratic Party of being energized by “hatred” for “our country,” “God” and “our president” on the eve of the most important day in his political career so far.

Saccone made the comments Monday at a rally at a local volunteer fire department in Blaine Hill. He squares off Tuesday against Democrat Conor Lamb in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th District.

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.

Opinion: Why the Pennsylvania Special Election Is Not So Special
Such contests are more about storylines than winning

Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone, left, and Democrat Conor Lamb boils down to a fight for national bragging rights, Murphy writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

All elections have consequences, but on a scale of zero-to-life-changing, Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb has fewer real-world consequences than most.

You wouldn’t know it from the screaming national headlines or the colossal amount of cash both parties are putting up to occupy the seat for the next nine months (almost $12 million in ad spending alone), but the reality of special elections this cycle is that they are more about winning a storyline than about winning any House seat.

Capitol Ink | March Maxim