The traditionally Republican district has had a Democrat in Congress for four years. But the many Patrick Murphy unseated in 2006 thinks this is his year to return to Washington.
Next week some Pennsylvania voters will get to choose between two candidates, again. In the battle for the Eighth Congressional District in Bucks County, Democrat Patrick Murphy is trying to fend off Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. He’s the same man Murphy beat in a tight election, four years ago.
On a recent beautiful fall day, Mike Fitzpatrick supporters gathered under a large white tent surrounded by trees covered in red and gold leaves, at a concrete business in Fairless Hills.
Penrose Hallowell has been backing Fitzpatrick since he served as Bucks County Commissioner and pushed to preserve farmland and open space. Hallowell hopes Fitzpatrick will be just one piece of a greater change: he’s also supporting Republican candidates in the gubernatorial and US senate races.
“My family’s an old Quaker family – been here 300 years – and we believe in opportunity and freedom and I see the opportunities for young people to get into business like farming, like I am, so limited and we don’t need government to take things over. We want to have some independence.”
Hallowell and others came to hear from another Fitzpatrick-backer: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“None of us want to wake up on November 3rd and see that Mike lost by this much, and that you still have Congressman Murphy. You don’t want that! You don’t want to wake-up and realize: we were one vote short of firing Nancy Pelosi.”
After the event, Fitzpatrick picked up where Christie left off, in tying his opponent to Democrats in D-C.
“I have an economic development plan to put people back to work that includes a smaller government, that permits the private enterprise – private sector – to employ more people. Patrick Murphy wants larger government that spends more and taxes more, that passes bills like ObamaCare – that crushes small businesses.”
The Eighth District race is also up for debate at a cozier location a few miles away. Inside a senior center in Bristol, some older voters are discussing the race.
Levittown resident Eleanor Guerriero, a Murphy volunteer, slides up to a table where a 90 year old Republican and a 95 year old Democrat are chatting. Guerriero gives her pitch for Murphy.
“He’s going to preserve our social security with every breath. I know he’s going to do that. He does care about the next generation. We’re okay. We’re not going to be in any jeopardy. But your children and your grandchildren are going to be in trouble if this Social Security went down the tubes like Wall Street went down. We don’t want it privatized, we want it the way it is.”
Guerriero says Fitzpatrick wasn’t a bad leader at all, but she was drawn to Murphy because of his stance against the Iraq war.
Ninety year old Republican Florence Dear keeps pointing out how tough things are now, with the Democrats in power.
“There’s a Democrat in there now. What’s he doin for you? Everybody’s out of work. They’re sending all the work overseas!”
Patrick Murphy certainly hopes 8th District voters don’t just cast ballots along party lines. The incumbent knows he needs the support of more than just Democrats.
“Most moderate Republicans realize the Republican party left them, they didn’t leave the Republican party. And the Republican party with Bush, and Fitzpatrick, and Christine O’Donnell is not the Republican party that represents them and their values.”
And while Fitzpatrick emphasizes Murphy’s support for President Obama’s policies, Murphy doesn’t hesitate to drop the name of another President.
“When they outsourced jobs – which has hurt Bucks County – when we lost 5298 jobs because of bad trade deals that Bush and Fitzpatrick supported when they were in charge, that has hurt middle class families, that has hurt Republicans. They see it and they don’t want to go back to the same failed Bush-Fitzpatrick economic policies that brought us into this ditch to begin with.”
The polls predict another tight election.
When Murphy beat Fitzpatrick four years ago, the Democrat ran against both President Bush and Congressman Fitzpatrick in a good year for Democrats. This election is shaping up to be a mirror image. It could take until late on election night before voters know if a Republican wave has returned Mike Fitzpatrick to Congress.