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2006 College graduate and Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Republican Rick Saccone in the closely-contested special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. 

Vote tallies as of 10:48 a.m. gave Lamb a slender lead of 627 votes — 0.2 percentage points — out of the 228,378 total votes cast.

The two candidates were neck-and-neck for much of Tuesday night, but Lamb declared victory at around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, before the race was officially called and many absentee ballots had yet to be counted. By Wednesday afternoon, all of the absentee ballots had been officially counted, and The New York Times called the race in Lamb's favor.

Credit: Christine Lam

The race, considered a "bellwether" for the November midterm elections, has captured national attention.

The election of a Democrat in the 18th District is notable, as the district, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, voted for Donald Trump by double digits in the 2016 presidential election. The seat had been held by Republican Tim Murphy since 2003. Murphy was forced to resign in October after he allegedly asked a woman he was having an affair with to have an abortion.

President Trump made two appearances in the district during the current campaign, endorsing Saccone and deriding Lamb as “Lamb the sham.”

The Penn alum achieved a narrow victory largely by distancing himself from the Democratic establishment and portraying himself as a moderate.

Lamb graduated from Penn in 2006 with a degree in Political Science and graduated from Penn Law three years later. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was appointed in 2014 as assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The special election against 60-year-old Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) marks the 33-year-old Lamb's first foray into politics.

Lamb has opposed stricter gun regulations in the wake of the Parkland massacre and also publicly announced he would not support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democrat has stated that he personally opposes abortion but is supportive of a woman’s right to choose.

This election marks the second high-profile victory for Democrats in traditionally Republican territory. Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election in December, surprising the conservative state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

For the winning candidate, the 18th Congressional District will soon change form based on the redistricting of Pennsylvania’s congressional map. According to FiveThirtyEight, most of the 18th District will be split up between the Republican 14th District and the more competitive 17th District. Lamb is expected to seek re-election in the new 14th District, per FiveThirtyEight, and will have to run for Congress yet again in November.

According to the Associated Press, Republicans are considering requesting that all ballots be impounded to prepare for a recount.

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