Opinion | Conor Lamb can’t be trusted as PA’s next senator


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Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb launched a campaign to run for U.S. Senate, seeking to fill Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat.

By Jack Troy, Assistant Opinions Editor

Rep. Conor Lamb is usually described in a way that alludes to his centrist chops — moderate, Blue Dog and, my favorite, “a fine young normal white fellow.”

He loves to live up to these descriptors, often making a scene out of his pragmatism and willingness to break with party orthodoxy. I mean, the guy “still loves to shoot,” like any ordinary red-blooded American.

His brief tenure in the House of Representatives representing Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District has yielded indefensible votes — real gems such as voting to fund a border wall, prevent families with an undocumented parent from receiving stimulus checks and oppose marijuana decriminalization.

He rationalized this last decision by saying it was a “small, non-serious bill,” claiming to still support decriminalization, offering no alternatives and then saying he’s too busy to think about weed anyways.

He’s conveniently shaped up in the past year, for reasons we now understand to be his recently announced run for Sen. Pat Toomey’s, R-Pa., soon-to-be vacant seat. Lamb has been trending to the left in the lead up to his campaign, shedding his affinity for maverick votes and coming out in favor of abolishing the filibuster.

And look, I get it. Lamb’s famous upset in Pennsylvania’s then-Trump-friendly 18th district — a district he no longer represents — would not have been possible without softening the edges on issues like gun control, abortion and trade like he did. Having a DINO in Congress is better than any Republican, even if Sen. Joe Manchin isn’t my favorite Democrat at the moment.

But, and this is an important but, we don’t know the real Conor Lamb, even if he’s currently voting in line with his fellow Democrats 99% of the time.

Who’s to say, if he makes it out of the Democratic primary victorious, that he won’t make all of his silly centrist promises again in the general election and spend at least a year or two actually making good on them? He’s certainly done it before. Lamb voted in line with Trump’s position an inexcusable 68% of the time during the 115th Congress, which he joined in April 2018 after winning a special election.

This gets even more worrisome given context and weight of the Pennsylvania Senate race. The chamber is currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tiebreaker in the event of party line vote with no abstentions, a role she has already fulfilled eight times.

We’re still a long way off from the primary, but Democrats expanding their margin via Pennsylvania is a very plausible scenario. Given Lamb’s record of breaking with his own party, we need to look elsewhere for Toomey’s successor. We’ve seen the damage that Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have done, and Lamb appears to be cut from a similar cloth. An expanded Senate margin is worth a whole lot less if it’s thanks to another moderate wannabe power broker that gets skittish around progress. 

Just right now, Manchin and Sinema are holding up a $3.5 trillion budget plan that could be passed with their votes. Since the reconciliation process only requires a simple majority to pass legislation, these two senators are single-handedly preventing investments in affordable housing, emissions reductions and climate resiliency, childcare and an expansion of Medicare, among other things. As a Democrat, if you don’t stand for those things, what do you stand for? As of right now, Manchin and Sinema only seem interested in posturing for the folks back home.

Lamb has a record of doing the same thing, even if he did vote to pass this budget blueprint in the House. The reality is, when all is said and done in the primary, he cannot be counted on to stand up for leftists causes — the ones so many of us believe to be not only just, but non-negotiable.

Other notable candidates include Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Val Arkoosh, a physician and Montgomery County commissioner, all three of whom have roots in the left far deeper than Lamb has managed to put down in his recent rebrand. I won’t offer an endorsement — yet. But I will implore you to view Lamb for what he is, not what he’s desperate to seem.

Jack Troy writes primarily about politics, SGB and being tired of capitalism. Write to him at [email protected].