Rick Saccone

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Rick Saccone
Talking Politics in Western PA - Rep. Dr. Rick Saccone - State Representative (cropped 2).png
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 39th district
Assumed office
January 4, 2011
Preceded by David Levdansky
Personal details
Born Richard Saccone
(1958-02-14) February 14, 1958 (age 60)
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Yong Saccone
Children 2
Residence Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
Education Weber State College (BS)
University of Oklahoma (MPA)
Naval Postgraduate School (MA)
University of Pittsburgh (PhD)
Website House website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Unit Office of Special Investigations

Richard Saccone (born February 14, 1958) is an American politician and author representing the state's 39th district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. A Republican, he was the party's nominee for the 18th congressional district special election, held on March 13, 2018. The race proved to be very close, and was ultimately won by the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb with a margin of less than 0.4%. Saccone conceded the race eight days later.[2]

Saccone is critical of welfare spending. He supports large-scale cuts to K-12 education, childhood education programs, public libraries, child welfare, and other state programs in order to pay back the federal government's debt.[3][4][5] Saccone's beliefs are strongly influenced by Christian reconstructionist and author David Barton, who also introduced Saccone's 2018 special election run.[6][7]

Education and career[edit]

Saccone received a bachelor's degree in psychology/criminal justice from Weber State College in 1981, a master's degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1984, and a master's degree in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1987.[8] Saccone received a Ph.D. in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002.[9]

He was later on the faculty of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He served as a United States Air Force officer, working in the Office of Special Investigation, counter intelligence.[10] After resigning from the Air Force, Saccone was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army during the Iraq War, working in Iraq from 2004-05.[10] While in Iraq, Saccone worked as an interrogation consultant at Abu Ghraib prison.[11]

According to his official and campaign biographies, Saccone worked as an anchor for an English-language television news station in South Korea,[12][9] and worked for businesses in South Korea and Central America.[12] He spent 12 years in South Korea, where he met his wife.[13]

Saccone's official biography states that he worked in North Korea on "an agreement meant to prevent the development of nuclear weapons there."[12] This was disputed by The Guardian, who stated that Saccone was misleading voters.[14]

Political career[edit]

Saccone and his wife greeting U.S. President Donald Trump

Pennsylvania House of Representatives[edit]

In 2010, Saccone challenged incumbent Democratic Rep. David Levdansky for the 39th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and defeated Levdansky by 151 votes (50.3% to 49.7%). Levdansky challenged Saccone to a rematch in 2012; Saccone defeated him again by a margin of 50.2%-49.8%.[15]

Saccone was re-elected with 60% of the vote in 2014 and 70% in 2016.[9] The district includes part of Allegheny County and part of Washington County.[16]

2018 U.S. Senate run[edit]

In February 2017, Saccone filed with the FEC to run for United States Senate in the 2018 election, seeking to challenge incumbent Bob Casey Jr., and officially declared his candidacy later that month.[17][18]

Saccone is a supporter of Donald Trump and pledged to be a Trump ally if elected to the Senate.[9] On October 8, 2017, he suspended his U.S. Senate campaign to announce that he would seek the Republican nomination for the 18th Congressional District special election.[19]

2018 18th congressional district special election[edit]

On November 11, 2017, Saccone became the Republican nominee for the 18th Congressional District special election held on March 13, 2018.[20] The special election attracted national attention. Republicans spent more than $8 million on television advertising, twice as much as the Democrats, and Republican stars including Donald Trump (twice), Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Mike Pence came to the state to campaign for Saccone.[21] As of March 14, Lamb led Saccone by 647 votes, mainly due to winning the Allegheny County portion of the district by 15,400 votes; Saccone won the rest of the district by 14,700 votes.[22] The result of the election was considered too close to call by most news outlets, since the candidates were separated by only 0.2 percent, and a recount was expected.[23] However, when it became apparent that Saccone would not be able to overcome Lamb's slim lead, he called Lamb to concede the race on March 21.[2]

Regular election for 14th congressional district[edit]

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the congressional map drawn by the state legislature and replaced it with a court-drawn map, most of the old 18th District was renumbered as the 14th District. On paper, the new 14th is even more Republican than its predecessor; Trump would have won it by 29 points had it existed in 2016.[24] On March 15, Saccone announced that regardless of the final result in the special election for the 18th, he will run in the regular election for the new 14th.[25] On May 15 Saccone lost the primary for the 14th district against Guy Reschenthaler (55%-45%)[26].

Political positions[edit]

Saccone closely identifies with President Trump, calling himself "Trump before Trump was Trump."[27][28][29]

Saccone's special election attracted national attention, and was seen by many political analysts and commentators as a bellwether on the popularity of the Republican party, Trump's taxes on foreign-made steel and aluminum imports, and the 2018 House election. [30][31][32][33][34] Saccone has purposely stoked this portrayal, calling himself "Trump before Trump was Trump" and the special election a referendum on the Presidency of Donald Trump.[35][36][37]

Abortion[edit]

Saccone introduced bills to limit abortion rights.[13]

Church and state[edit]

In 2013, Saccone attracted attention for introducing the National Motto Display Act, a bill to require public school districts in Pennsylvania to post "In God We Trust" (the national motto) in every school building.[10][38]

The 2013 legislation failed, but in 2016, Saccone co-sponsored similar legislation (which would encourage but not mandate the posting of the motto in schools). The bill passed on a 179-20 vote in May 2016. The legislation was criticized by secular advocacy groups, such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.[39] Also in 2013, Saccone sponsored a "day of prayer" resolution, seeking to designate April 30 as a National Fast Day.[38]

In January 2012, Saccone introduced to the state House a nonbinding resolution (Resolution No. 535) to declare 2012 as the "Year of the Bible" in Pennsylvania. The resolution passed unanimously, but was criticized by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.[40][41] The resolution drew considerable political controversy in Pennsylvania, as well as national attention.[42]

The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit over the resolution, Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Saccone, alleging a violation of the Establishment Clause. U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner dismissed the suit on the grounds of legislative immunity, but criticized the legislature for using state resources to "provide a re-election sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly."[43]

Religious views[edit]

In an interview in 2017 with the Pastors Network of America, Saccone stated that God wants those who have the "fear of God in them" to "rule over us".[44]

Donald Trump[edit]

During his brief 2018 Senate run, Saccone pledged to be a Trump ally if elected to the Senate.[9] In January 2018, Saccone was endorsed by Trump after winning the Republican nomination for the 18th congressional district special election.[27]

Economy[edit]

Saccone supported the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018, saying "I'm sorry I wasn’t there to vote for it".[45] Over the course of the campaign for the 2018 special election seat, Saccone distanced himself from ads which touted his support for the tax cuts and the ads, which were prominent at the start of the campaign, were cycled out.[46]

Government spending[edit]

In February 2018, it was falsely reported that Saccone used his legislative expense account, which is funded by taxpayers, at a greater rate than other lawmakers.[3]

Guns[edit]

Saccone is known for his strong advocacy of gun rights.[9][10] In 2017, he sponsored at least four bills seeking to expand the rights of gun owners; one such bill would amend state law to prohibit discrimination against gun carriers; a co-sponsorship memorandum for the bill criticized Chuck E. Cheese's for its "policy barring customers from carrying firearms inside" the venue.[9]

Organized labor[edit]

Saccone favors right-to-work legislation, which makes it illegal for workers in unionized workplaces to be compelled into joining unions.[45] According to NBC News, "Saccone’s conservative record has united organized labor against him."[27] Saccone disputes the characterization, saying "the union members have always voted for me. Their leadership has never represented their members, and they know that."[45]

Lobbyism[edit]

Saccone introduced legislation that would prohibit public officials from accepting "transportation, lodging or hospitality or anything of economic value as a gift" from lobbyists.[47] Saccone said, "I have at least 20 lobbyist groups that have never taken me out for anything. They come to my office, they make their pitch and they go away. And that is how it should be."[47] However, it was later reported that Saccone did routinely get meals paid by lobbyists; Saccone justified getting gifted meals by lobbyists, saying that he had to have the meals with the lobbyists because other lawmakers did and he did not want to isolate himself from other lawmakers.[47]

Interrogation[edit]

Saccone advocated for waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other forms of "enhanced interrogation" in articles and his book.[48][49]

Roy Moore sexual assault accusations[edit]

In the 2017 Alabama special election, Saccone defended Roy Moore from accusations of sexual assault.[50]

Allegations of wasting government money[edit]

According to The Intercept, records recovered from the Pennsylvania General Assembly showed that Saccone often spent extensively on non-essential items. They stated that Saccone often used taxpayer money "for meals, per diem payments, and other items at a rate higher than most lawmakers." The investigation showed that Saccone purchased 36 line items for various flag and flag accessory purchases totaling $4,436.30. Saccone also spent $117,400 to lease an office from Dowling Properties, a real estate company founded by Celine Dowling, one of his campaign donors.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Saccone is a Baptist.[38] He is married to Yong Saccone whom he met in South Korea. The couple have two sons, Nick and Matthew.[8]

Electoral history[edit]

Pennsylvania's 39th House District primary election, 2010[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone 2,016 56.03%
Republican Shawn M. Hess 1,582 43.97%
Total votes 3,598 100.00%
Pennsylvania's 39th House District general election, 2010[52]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone 10,761 50.35%
Democratic David Levdansky (incumbent) 10,610 49.65%
Total votes 21,371 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic
Pennsylvania's 39th House District primary election, 2012[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone (incumbent) 2,644 63.44%
Republican Shauna D'Alessandro 1,524 36.56%
Total votes 4,168 100.00%
Pennsylvania's 39th House District general election, 2012[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone (incumbent) 14,495 50.19%
Democratic David Levdansky 14,383 49.81%
Total votes 28,878 100.00%
Republican hold
Pennsylvania's 39th House District general election, 2014[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone (incumbent) 11,805 60.35%
Democratic Lisa Stout-Bashioum 7,755 39.65%
Total votes 19,560 100.00%
Republican hold
Pennsylvania's 39th House District primary election, 2016[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone (incumbent) 7,685 100.00%
Total votes 7,685 100.00%
Pennsylvania's 39th House District general election, 2016[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rick Saccone (incumbent) 22,034 68.40%
Democratic Peter Kobylinski 10,180 31.60%
Total votes 32,214 100.00%
Republican hold
Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district special election Republican conferree meeting[57]
Candidate First ballot Pct. Second ballot Pct.
Rick Saccone 74 34.4% 123 57.5%
Guy Reschenthaler 75 34.9% 91 42.5%
Kim Ward 66 30.7% Eliminated
Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district special election, 2018[58]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Conor Lamb 114,102 49.86% +49.86%
Republican Rick Saccone 113,347 49.53% -50.47%
Libertarian Drew Gray Miller 1,381 0.60% +0.60%
Total votes 228,830 100.00%
Plurality 755 0.33% -99.67%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rick Saccone, profile
  2. ^ a b Eric Bradner (March 21, 2018). "Republican Rick Saccone concedes 8 days after Pennsylvania special election". CNN. 
  3. ^ a b c Fang, Lee (2018-02-01). "Rick Saccone, Critic of Government Spending, Spends Freely From His Expense Account, Records Show". The Intercept. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  4. ^ "GOP candidate Rick Saccone hates government waste, bills the taxpayer like crazy on his own personal expenses, which totalled $435,172/Boing Boing". boingboing.net. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  5. ^ "State Lawmaker Takes On So-Called 'Ghost Teachers'". 2017-05-24. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  6. ^ Burton, Tara (January 25, 2018). "The Historian Behind America's Religious Right". Vox. Retrieved March 13, 2018. 
  7. ^ Miller, Barbara. "Mon Valley state rep announcing U.S. Senate run for Casey's seat". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  8. ^ a b "Legislative candidates align themselves with governor's race". post-gazette.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Saccone announces his U.S. Senate bid in Capitol". post-gazette.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  10. ^ a b c d "State Rep. Rick Saccone takes big step toward a bigger arena". pennlive.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  11. ^ Fang, Lee (January 19, 2018). "GOP Candidate for Pennsylvania Special Election Is a Former Abu Ghraib Interrogation Consultant". theintercept.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c "Western Pa. representative will challenge Bob Casey". philly.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  13. ^ a b "Republicans pick state Rep. Rick Saccone as nominee for March 13 special election". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  14. ^ Haas, Benjamin; Jacobs, Ben (2018-03-10). "Republican candidate's North Korea experience may not be all he claims". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  15. ^ a b "PA State House 039 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  16. ^ Center, Legislativate Data Processing. "Representative Rick Saccone". Pennsylvania General Assembly website. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  17. ^ Engelkemier, Paul (February 10, 2017). "Saccone Launches 2018 US Senate Bid". PoliticsPA. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  18. ^ Engelkemier, Paul. "Saccone Launches Senate Bid". PoliticsPA. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Pa. Rep. Rick Saccone Suspends Senate Run, Bids To Replace Murphy Bid". KDKA-TV. October 8, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017. 
  20. ^ Chris, Potter (November 11, 2017). "After second round of voting, GOP has its nominee for the PA-18 special election: state Rep. Rick Saccone. Dems recommend their champion to state leaders next Sunday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  21. ^ Schneider, Elena; Isenstadt, Alex (March 12, 2018). "Republicans wage 11th-hour blitz in Pa. special election". Politico. Retrieved 14 March 2018. 
  22. ^ Election results from CNN
  23. ^ Schneider, Elena (March 14, 2018). "Republicans prepare for recount in Pennsylvania special election". Politico. Retrieved 14 March 2018. 
  24. ^ Cohn, Nate; Bloch, Matthew; Quealy, Kevin (February 19, 2018). "The New Pennsylvania House Districts Are In. We Review the Mapmakers' Choices". The Upshot. The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  25. ^ Emily Goodin; John Verhovek (March 15, 2018). "Conor Lamb, Rick Saccone to run again in November in new and different congressional districts". ABC News. 
  26. ^ "Pennsylvania Elections - Office Results". www.electionreturns.pa.gov. Retrieved 2018-05-16. 
  27. ^ a b c Alex Seitz-Wald (January 18, 2018). "Trump jumps into midterms in race to replace Republican who quit in scandal". NBC News. 
  28. ^ Olson, Laura (January 18, 2018). "Trump wades into Pennsylvania race seen as test of Republican strength". Morning Call. 
  29. ^ John Whitesides (January 17, 2018). "Pennsylvania race to test Democrats' hopes for anti-Trump wave". Reuters. 
  30. ^ "Trump's tariff threat may be timed for Pennsylvania U.S. House race". Reuters. 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  31. ^ "Republican super PACs surge into Pennsylvania special election". The Washington Post. January 4, 2018. 
  32. ^ "So it begins? National groups investing in Pa-18 special election". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 5, 2018. 
  33. ^ "Democratic wave: Republicans are bracing for a potentially competitive special election in a usually reliable part of Pennsylvania". Politico. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  34. ^ "In Pennsylvania, a Bellwether Special Election Attracts National Attention | National Review". National Review. 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  35. ^ Alex Seitz-Wald (January 18, 2018). "Trump jumps into midterms in race to replace Republican who quit in scandal". NBC News. 
  36. ^ Olson, Laura (January 18, 2018). "Trump wades into Pennsylvania race seen as test of Republican strength". Morning Call. 
  37. ^ John Whitesides (January 17, 2018). "Pennsylvania race to test Democrats' hopes for anti-Trump wave". Reuters. 
  38. ^ a b c "Pennsylvania bill would require schools to display 'In God We Trust' motto". foxnews.com. October 25, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  39. ^ Lindstrom, Natasha. "'In God We Trust' bill advances in Pennsylvania Legislature". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  40. ^ "Bill Information - House Resolution 535; Regular Session 2011-2012". Pennsylvania General Assembly website. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  41. ^ Joseph L. Conn, Year of the Bible?: Pa. House Urges 'Faith In God Through Holy Scripture', Wall of Separation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, January 27, 2012.
  42. ^ Matt Miller, Neither side is budging in Pennsylvania House's Year of the Bible resolution, pennlive.com, April 9, 2012.
  43. ^ Saranac Hale Spencer, Pennsylvania legislators' 'Year of the Bible' declaration legal but ill-advised, judge says, post-gazette.com, October 22, 2012.
  44. ^ "Trump throws support behind Pennsylvania Republican who threatens to 'rule with the fear of God'". Raw Story. 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  45. ^ a b c Weigel, David (2018-01-17). "The first congressional election of 2018: A test of Trump in western Pennsylvania". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-01-19. 
  46. ^ Weigel, David (2018-03-01). "In tight Pennsylvania race, GOP struggles to land a blow against Conor Lamb". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-05. 
  47. ^ a b c Esack, Steve. "U.S. Sen candidate and state Rep. Rick Saccone eats his gift ban words". themorningcall.com. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  48. ^ "The waterboarding debate Interrogations should be left to the experts". eastbaytimes.com. February 10, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  49. ^ Unseen War in Iraq: Insurgents in the Shadows, eastbaytimes.com, October 15, 2008.
  50. ^ Potter, Chris (December 7, 2017). "Democrats hit Saccone over 'presumption of innocence' remark in Roy Moore discussion". Post Gazette. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  51. ^ "PA State House 039 - R Primary 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  52. ^ "PA State House 039 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  53. ^ "PA State House 039 - R Primary 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  54. ^ "PA State House 039 2014". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  55. ^ "PA State House 039 - R Primary 2016". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  56. ^ "PA State House 039 2016". Our Campaigns. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  57. ^ Potter, Chris (November 11, 2017). "For those of you with money in office pools, Reschenthaler scored 75 votes in the first round, Saccone 74, and Ward 66. Candidates must reach absolute majority to become party's nominee". @CPotterPgh. Retrieved March 7, 2018. 
  58. ^ "Allegheny County's District 18 special election results are finally official". The Incline. Retrieved April 3, 2018. 

External links[edit]

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Levdansky
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 39th district

2011–present
Incumbent