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Pennsylvania Voters React To Lamb's Apparent Win


Democrats are celebrating an apparent victory by Conor Lamb in last week's special election in Pennsylvania. It was a tight race against Republican Rick Saccone in a district Trump won by almost 20 points. In the end, Lamb appears to have won by just a few hundred votes. Last month, I visited the district, and I met two voters - Dave Podurgiel, a Republican who works in the tugboat industry, and Jojo Burgess, a steelworker and union leader. And I wanted to hear their reaction to the results, so we're bringing them on now. Hello, gentlemen.

JOJO BURGESS: How are you today?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Did you guys follow the results to the bitter end? I have to confess I was up all night watching this nail-biter. Let's start with you, Jojo.

BURGESS: I happened to be actually at the Conor Lamb event whenever the results were coming in, and it was a roller coaster night to say the very least. I did follow it all night. Yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Dave?

PODURGIEL: Just like Jojo, I was at the Rick Saccone headquarters watching it right to the end, and it was a roller coaster.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Indeed it was. Numbers going back and forth, a very tight race. But, Dave, I imagine you are disappointed in the results.

PODURGIEL: Yes and no. I mean, the results aren't completely in yet. Just comes down to the numbers. So that's why I think that everybody wants to do this recount, you know, since it was so close to see if there was any irregularities or anything like that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, Dave. But even so, I mean, this was an area that went very staunchly Republican in the last election. It was a very tight race.

PODURGIEL: Yes. And I think it's what Conor ran on, you know, being more of a moderate Democrat. And I think that appealed, obviously, to a lot of Republicans out there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You think people flipped?

PODURGIEL: Possibly, yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jojo, what's your reaction? It was a tiny margin. What does that tell you?

BURGESS: It was a tiny margin. And I will say that a lot of people did flip because as I was working with organized labor, we were out on these doorsteps. We were talking to people. They were upset with the negativity of the ads that were being shown on TV, and that was a problem for them, I think. I know there's going to be a recount. I don't think there's going to - there was no irregularities or anything like that. I mean, it was a close race. But one thing that happened is Rick Saccone could not hit the numbers that Donald Trump hit in any of these three counties. And that's why he came up a little short.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is there something that the Democrats can learn from this race, do you think, in other parts of the country?

BURGESS: I'll tell you this. I think the Democrats learned back in 2016 a lot. And I think that's why you're starting to see that now with some of these races. What I always say is elections have consequences, and if you don't participate, then you're going to be part of the consequence. And I think that people are seeing that they've got to motivate, get up, vote. Whether they want to or not, they still need to follow their civic duty and vote, so they can be part of the process and have their voice heard. And I think that Democrats learned that sitting at home in 2016 caused us an outcome that we really didn't want. So we'll see how it all shapes out whenever it comes to the November - when we get the midterm elections going.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dave, what have the Republicans, do you think, learned from this election? What is the lesson?

PODURGIEL: Well, I think the lesson is that maybe we thought that with the tax cut and how good things are going and getting better with the stock market and everything as a whole - that they thought it would be a shoe-in, and a Republican would win. So they need to, you know, get their messaging back out that it's better this way. I mean, we came out of a recession, and, you know, nothing was done to speed it up. And it's happening now. And they just need to stay focused on that message that we can get this country back to where it is and, you know, keep America first. That's important. And that America first will include every single American.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dave Podurgiel and Jojo Burgess of Washington County, Pa., thank you both so very much.

BURGESS: Thank you very much.

PODURGIEL: Oh, no problem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.