Conor Lamb is a second term Democratic congressman from suburban Pittsburgh who’s running for U.S. Senate with a centrist pitch that he can replicate the coalition of Pennsylvania voters who elected Joe Biden president.
A Marine and former federal prosecutor, Lamb has attracted support from party leaders, unions, and a group of national Democrats with the argument that he’s won in a conservative district before and has the best shot at winning a general election.
What is Conor Lamb’s background?
Lamb, 37, was born and raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.
He comes from a political family. His grandfather Thomas Lamb led the Pennsylvania Senate in the 1970s, and his uncle Michael Lamb is Pittsburgh’s city controller.
Lamb went to undergrad and law school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he played Rugby and was active with the College Democrats. He joined the Marine Corps after law school and served as a judge advocate in Okinawa, Japan.
He worked as a federal prosecutor from 2014 to 2017, prosecuting drug and violent crime cases in Pittsburgh.
Lamb’s political career started in 2018 when he won a special election in a district Donald Trump had won by almost 20 points. The special election drew national attention, and Lamb won full terms in competitive districts later in 2018 and again in 2020.
Lamb lives in Mount Lebanon with his wife, Hayley, and their son, Matthew.
What are Conor Lamb’s top policy priorities?
The overarching theme of Lamb’s campaign is that he’s the Democrat best suited to win in November. He talks about wanting to be “that one Democratic vote” that pushes legislation over the line.
He’s more ideologically moderate than the other Democrats in the race, and points to his time representing a conservative district as part of the reason why. Some of the stances that helped him in past races have put him in a more precarious position with progressives a statewide Democratic primary.
Lamb was one of just three House Democrats who voted to make tax cuts enacted under President Donald Trump permanent for individuals in 2018. (He said he opposed the original tax cut bill but supported the extension measure because it targeted individuals.) He opposed an assault weapons ban in 2018 but now supports one.
He’s long opposed “Medicare for All,” calling it too expensive. And he’s the lone Democrat in the race against the federal legalization of marijuana.
On the campaign trail, Lamb has emphasized raising the minimum wage to $15, eliminating the filibuster, and strengthening labor unions.
Lamb opposes bans on fracking.
While he has said he’s personally against abortion, Lamb has consistently voted for legislation to protect abortion rights and was endorsed by the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Who is backing Conor Lamb?
Lamb launched his campaign outside an electrical workers’ union hall on Pittsburgh’s Hot Metal Street surrounded by local officials and firefighters.
In the months since, he’s racked up endorsements from labor leaders and elected officials.
He fell short of the support needed for an endorsement by the state Democratic Party but won the backing of the Philadelphia party. Several party leaders and unions in Philadelphia support him, including Mayor Jim Kenney and the Philadelphia Building Trades.
A super PAC led by some national Democrats, including longtime political strategist James Carville, is also airing ads to support Lamb and attack Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the front-runner.
Lamb argues he can rebuild the coalition that elected Biden, particularly moderate and swing voters who can be critical in a state as closely balanced as Pennsylvania.
His campaign has in many ways mirrored the president’s. Biden also had his first major campaign event at a Pittsburgh union hall, leaned heavily on endorsements from establishment figures, and faced skepticism from some on the left.
What else should I know?
Observers of the race say that to catch Fetterman, Lamb needs to build his name recognition across the state — with less money than the front-runner.
After months of a fairly mild-mannered primary, Lamb launched direct attacks at Fetterman in April, bringing up a 2013 incident that has overshadowed Fetterman’s campaign. Lamb said the incident, in which Fetterman pulled a shotgun on a man he wrongly suspected of a shooting, would be “fatal,” to his campaign.
But those attacks have yet to gain traction, and national Democrats have made clear they’re unlikely to mobilize against Fetterman like they did against Joe Sestak in the 2016 primary.