Democrats make their case to replace GOP U.S. Rep. Fitzpatrick in Bucks County

Pennsylvania’s new congressional map makes Bucks County’s already competitive seat slightly more favorable to Democrats, according to an analysis by the the Cook Political Report.

Three Democratic candidates are vying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who won his Bucks County district handily in 2016 even as Hillary Clinton eked out a win there.

Tuesday night, candidates Scott Wallace, Steve Bacher, and Rachel Reddick made their pitches for why they’re the right person to replace Fitzpatrick in the newly-drawn 1st Congressional District before an audience of about two hundred in the auditorium of Council Rock High School in Newtown.

All three put forth progressive platforms, calling for gun safety legislation, getting money out of politics, and protecting the environment. That led some audience members to ask the candidates to try to distinguish themselves.

In her answer, Reddick said that while they may have similar policy platforms, each would tackle them in a different order.

“I think the differences between each of these candidates before you is not what our policies are, but what our priorities are … and my priority is going to be healthcare,” she said.

During the collegial two-hour program organized by the local chapter of Indivisible, the candidates argued the merits of different approaches to reducing the likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea and to closing the gap between rich and poor. They also used their personal narratives to illustrate why they have the right mix of qualities to unseat the first-term incumbent.

Reddick, 33, is a former Republican and Navy JAG veteran, who has also worked on behalf of women fleeing domestic violence. In the “year of the woman,” Reddick said, it’s high time for this Pennsylvania district to send its first female delegate to Congress. She also touted her experience talking to Republicans in her family as proof she can work across the aisle. One audience member pointed out Reddick did not switch her registration to the Democratic Party until last year, and questioned her commitment to its causes.

Since 2006, “I have voted for Democrats, worked for Democrats, and knocked doors for Democrats,” she said. “Like so many people across our country, I got so angry when I saw Donald Trump becoming a candidate, that I was awoken in a way I had not been before.”

Bacher, 55, is a longtime environmentalist who once worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The co-founder of groups such as the Bucks Environmental Action Group, the nonprofit worker said his experience as a grassroots organizer made him a good fit for getting out the vote and gave him credibility on progressive issues.

Of the three, the Bucks County Democratic Party has endorsed Wallace, 66, a philanthropist who in the past worked as a congressional lawyer. With deep pockets and a former vice president in his family, Wallace made his case as the one who could afford to fight — and beat — Fitzpatrick.

“On the question of who can beat Fitzpatrick, the reality is this is going to be a very expensive race,” he said. “I am refusing to take corporate PAC money and am fortunate enough to be able to put money into the race myself,” promising to match public contributions with his own funds.

All of the candidates vowed to throw their support behind the winner of the primary, in order to try to rein in their other opponent: President Trump. 

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Reddick would not be the first woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania, but she would be the first from her congressional district.

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