Capitol Report: Republican tax cut message abandoned in Pennsylvania special election | Carson, wife reportedly selected $31,000 dining set

Democratic congressional candidate Conor Lamb (pictured) has declared victory in Pennsylvania’s special election, but Republican Rick Saccone says he won’t concede until election officials finish the count.

Republicans stopped talking about tax reform in the closing weeks of the special House race in a Pennsylvania district Donald Trump easily won, even though it’s the accomplishment they’d banked their midterm hopes on.

As Politico writes, if the tax law isn’t a reliable vote-winner, it means Republicans may have to find different midterm messaging to go along with a wave of attacks linking Democratic candidates to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The race — which as of early Wednesday morning still wasn’t called — pitted Democrat Conor Lamb against Republican Rick Saccone. Take a look at how ads mentioning tax reform fell off late in the race:

Also see: Why a special House election in a district Trump easily won is seen as a referendum.

100+ seats in play? ‘Not quite’ says analyst: Lamb’s performance in the race is good news for Democrats, Boston College political scientist David Hopkins wrote in a post on Wednesday. But he said it’s “not exactly realistic” that Democrats stand to gain seats by triple digits in November. “I’d recommend being a bit wary of the claim, oft-repeated during Tuesday night’s coverage, that there are more than 100 Republican-held House seats that are more electorally vulnerable than PA-18,” Hopkins wrote. The 18th district, Hopkins wrote, has more of a Democratic tradition and labor union presence than most other districts that gave Trump comparable margins.

Now read: Special election to be bellwether in determining if congresswoman Trump called ‘low IQ’ will run key bank committee.

Carsons selected dining set, emails show: CNN reports newly released emails cast doubt on assertions by Secretary Ben Carson and his spokesman that he had little or no involvement in buying a $31,000 furniture set for his Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room.

The emails show that Carson and his wife Candy selected the furniture themselves. An August email from an administration staffer to Carson’s assistant refers to “printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out.” CNN said the documents were released following a Freedom of Information Act request from liberal watchdog group American Oversight. HUD spokesman Raffi Williams initially denied the Carsons had any involvement in the dining set selection. Williams said Tuesday: “When presented with options by professional staff, Mrs. Carson participated in the selection of specific styles.”

Also see: Ben Carson says $31,000 dining-room set for HUD office will be canceled.

Democrats distance themselves from Clinton quip: The Washington Post writes Democratic senators facing tough reelection battles distanced themselves Tuesday from Hillary Clinton after she said President Trump’s voters came from less productive parts of the country, and were attracted by a backward-looking message. “Those are kind of fighting words for me, because I’m partial to Missouri voters,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a state Trump won by 19 points. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, which Trump won by nearly nine points, told the HuffPost, “I don’t really care what she said.” He added “I just think that that’s not helpful.”

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