Ryan on Lamb: Let Local Issues Frame Campaigns

WASHINGTON – Allowing Democratic candidates at the local level to frame issues and tailor their message to their districts was the biggest takeaway from Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb’s win in a Pennsylvania special election Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said on MSNBC last night.

“Keep the D.C. circuit, consultants and pollsters out of it and let them handle it locally. That’s a winning recipe for Democrats,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, told MSNBC host Chuck Todd.

Lamb, a former Marine, scored a slender victory over Republican nominee Rick Saccone in a special election for a vacated seat in a congressional district long held by Republicans and which Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

Lamb touted his support for gun rights and said he would not vote for Nancy Pelosi as leader.

“I’ve made abundantly clear where I stand” on Pelosi, said Ryan, who challenged her as minority leader following the 2016 election. “The local candidate needs to decide how they’re going to handle that situation,” he said.

Since Tuesday’s special election, national news organizations have speculated that more Democratic candidates will emulate Lamb and disavow Pelosi, who Republicans characterize in attack ads as an out-of-touch San Francisco liberal. But even in Lamb’s race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Pelosi essentially controls, funneled more than $400,000 to Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party in support of Lamb, according to published reports.

Ryan, who campaigned for Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, told MSNBC that having a robust economic message that speaks to voters’ aspirations unites Democrats, independents, Republicans, men, women and working-class people, he said. “That works because that’s what’s on people’s minds,” he said. “Conor did that.”

While Ryan acknowledged he doesn’t know Lamb’s position on guns “inside and out,” what is important is to recognize that there might be candidates who align with Democrats for the most part on gun issues but may hunt and “culturally align” with residents of their district.

“I think that can be a powerful message, saying, ‘Look, I hunt with my kids, I’m a hunter, but I do think these assault weapons need to go or we do need restrictions on them,’ ” Ryan said.

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