Rick Saccone, the Republican running for a House seat in a closely watched election in Pennsylvania, is married to a woman he met in South Korea. The Saccones are the parents of two children who are in the U.S. Air Force.
Saccone’s wife, Yong Saccone, frequently appeared at her husband’s side on the campaign trail for the 18th Congressional District seat, which Democrats are hoping their candidate, Conor Lamb, will flip. The special election was March 13, 2018, and the polls are now closed.
Saccone, 60, is a state legislator in Pennsylvania. He is also a former counter-intelligence officer for the Air Force. He is running against a 33-year-old prosecutor and Marine Corps captain whose family has long been involved in Democratic politics in Pennsylvania. Democrats are targeting the race even though President Donald Trump won the district by 20 points because the polls show that Lamb, who is perceived as a moderate, has moved in striking distance in an area that usually goes Republican.
With some absentee ballots still being counted, Lamb led Saccone by a mere 641 votes. Some were declaring Lamb the victor, but Saccone had not conceded. However experts said the math would make it tough for Saccone to succeed at this point. However, there were indications he might run again in the fall when the district’s boundaries are redrawn.
Trump campaigned for Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania. “Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!” Trump tweeted. His son also stumped for Saccone. The race is being perceived as a bellwether for both the midterm elections and also for public perceptions of Trump.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rick Saccone Met His Wife, Yong, in South Korea
Rick Saccone’s work experience in part spans time as a counter-intelligence officer in South Korea. He met his wife there. According to his campaign website, Rick Saccone met Yong “while working in South Korea. They have been faithful to each other for 38 years. Yong is almost always at his side, as Rick rarely attends an event without her.” Photos on Facebook show that this is true; Yong Saccone is seen frequently on the campaign trail with her husband.
Like his opponent, Conor Lamb, Saccone is a veteran. Rick Saccone was a “counter-intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force, defending against commandos and espionage from North Korea. Rick was on the counter-terror task forces for two Olympic Games: 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul, South Korea,” his website bio reports. Rick Saccone has served in the Pennsylvania state legislature since 2010.
According to The Independent, Saccone “served as a diplomat to North Korea from 2000 to 2001 during the administration of President George W Bush and was the only US citizen living in Pyongyang at the time.” He also served as a professor.
2. The Saccones’ Two Sons Are in the U.S. Air Force
Rick and Yong Saccone have two children – both sons. Both sons followed in their father’s military footsteps, ending up in Air Force careers. One of the brothers lives in South Korea and was recently pictured meeting Vice President Mike Pence during Pence’s Olympic visit to that country. “Rick and Yong are the proud parents of two sons, Nick and Matthew, who both graduated from the Virginia Military Institute as civil engineers and are now serving as officers in the U.S. Air Force,” the campaign biography says.
The Saccones are also grandparents, judging from photos on Yong’s Facebook page that show them, their sons, their son’s wife, and a young child.
On Facebook, Nick Saccone wrote that he lives in Osan, Kyonggi-Do, Korea. He is the son who recently posted photos of himself with Vice President Mike Pence.
3. The Saccones Have Been Married for Almost Four Decades & Tout Their Relationship in Campaign Literature
The marriage between Rick Saccone and his wife Yong is a long one. “They have been faithful to each other for 38 years,” the campaign website reports. In February 2018 that turned into 39 years, with Rick Saccone writing on Facebook, “Happy birthday to my lovely wife of 39 years.” The couple certainly does not hesitate to share their love on social media.
“Even Yong’s weapons are red white and blue,” Rick Saccone wrote on Facebook along with a photo of his wife holding a gun.
On LinkedIn, Yong Saccone defines herself as “Retired aerobics instructor at Retired and enjoying Life.”
4. Some Have Jokingly Called Yong Saccone a ‘Defacto Lawmaker’ & Both Saccones Often Wear American Flag Attire
Yong Saccone is at her husband’s side so often that she’s earned a nickname: Defactor legislator. “Saccone routinely eats breakfasts, lunches, appetizers and dinners that lobbyists pay for in Harrisburg. And, Saccone rarely dines alone,” reports MCall.com. “He brings his wife, Yong, to the free meals. In fact, Yong Saccone accompanies her husband so often in Harrisburg and on the campaign trail, House Republicans jokingly refer to her as a defacto lawmaker.”
Yong’s personal Facebook page is filled photos of her family and her husband’s campaign. The Saccones are sometimes photographed in matching flag shirts. In fact, Yong’s favorite attire seems to be variations of the American flag.
5. Rick Saccone Was Praised for Holding an Umbrella Over His Wife’s Head
People find the Saccone’s PDA refreshing especially in a district where the incumbent left in midst of a sex scandal. The Washington County Republican party posted a photo showing Rick Saccone holding an American flag umbrella over Yong’s head as it rained.
“Today, after Lou Barletta’s breakfast, Rick Saccone walked his wife, Yong Saccone, to the car. It was raining, and he held the umbrella over her head. He didn’t know we were going to take this photo, there was no one in the parking lot, and he doesn’t even know we are going to post this,” the party wrote on Facebook.
“Rick Saccone is a great man with strong morals and knows how to respect a woman.”