Two minutes after Rick Saccone secured his place on the Republican ballot for the special election to replace Rep. Tim Murphy in the 18th Congressional District in Western Pennsylvania, one of the seven Democrats vying to be their party’s nominee sent out a press release stating Saccone was no different than the highly controversial Alabama Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Today the Republican Party selected State Representative Rick Saccone — Pennsylvania's version of Roy Moore -- as their candidate to replace disgraced GOP Congressman Tim Murphy,” Matt Merriman-Preston, Pam Iovino’s consultant said in a campaign email.
The implied association tying Saccone to Moore’s conduct may have been the first from a Democratic candidate since the accusations against Moore were released last week, but it likely will not be the last if the embattled Alabama candidate is not forced from the ballot, or refused to be seated if he wins Alabama’s special election next month.
It also showcases the never-ending issues Republicans will face if Moore wins the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. There is also a sense of uncertainty over whether the seat should be surrendered to Doug Jones, the Democrat running against Moore, rather than risk losing a host of seats in the House and Senate with Moore’s behavior hanging over the party for an entire year leading up to the 2018 mid-term elections.
Moore is running to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he left the Senate to become attorney general; however, he's now facing allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old when he was 32 via a Washington Post report last week.
Other women have come forward saying he pursued them in his 30’s when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
Moore has seen a steady stream of Republican support withdrawn from the halls of the U.S. Senate, House and governors across the country since the report came out.
Until Murphy was forced to resign from his seat after advising his mistress to have an abortion the former congressman won the seat with ease, President Trump took over 58 percent of the vote in the district, yet Democrats still have a 60,000-plus voter registration advantage in the district.
Saccone won the nomination after two rounds of voting; the Democrats will chose their nominee next Sunday for the March 13th contest; the Western Pennsylvania district stretches across four suburban and rural counties that include Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland.
Iovino is one of seven Democrats vying to flip the 18th Congressional District from red to blue that include psychologist Reuben Brock, Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli, former Allegheny County Councilmember Mike Crossey, the establishments favorite former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, emergency physician Bob Solomon and writer Keith Seewald.
Saccone, 59, served in the U.S. Air Force for over a decade as a counterintelligence and special agent; he then served as a diplomat in North Korea from 2000 to 2001. He has held his state house seat since 2010.