Endorsement battles heat up in Pa. congressional races

     Brian Fitzpatrick is making a late run for his brother's congressional seat. (Image via Montgomery County Democracy for America)

    Brian Fitzpatrick is making a late run for his brother's congressional seat. (Image via Montgomery County Democracy for America)

    Few political endorsements are decisive in elections. But in the early stages of a congressional race, getting some prominent backers can send a message to rivals that you have powerful friends and fundraising capacity. Here’s a look at what’s brewing in some local Pennsylvania congressional contests.

    Bucks Republican race in turmoilIn the 8th Congressional District, a bona-fide swing district, it appeared most of the GOP establishment had made its pick to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Though there were other candidates in the race, State Rep. Scott Petri has already picked up the public support of dozens of local Republican elected officials.

    Then last week, Brian Fitzpatrick, the congressman’s brother, announced he’s moving back to the area to run for the family seat. Brian Fitzpatrick was a FBI supervisory special agent and special assistant U.S. attorney in California, and his late and sudden entry in the race has shaken up party regulars.

    The new Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a website and, so far, I haven’t been able to track him down for an interview. But I’m told his brother the congressman, who wasn’t there when Brian Fitzpatrick announced his plans last week, is making calls on his brother’s behalf.

    It puts all those who’ve already endorsed Petri in kind of a tough spot. County Republican chair Pat Poprik told me she’s going to see how the party committee people react to the candidates in a series of regional meetings over the next few days.

    The county executive committee will meet to consider an endorsement next week. It could decide not to pick, and make it an open primary.

    Also in the Republican race are former Bucks County Commissioner Andrew Warren, former Bucks County prosecutor Dean Malik and psychologist Marc Duome.

    Santarsiero gets supportMeanwhile, in the Democratic primary battle in the Bucks County district, state Rep. Steve Santarsiero has picked up the endorsement of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Hoeffel, and the Union of Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, his 14th labor endorsement.

    You can see his release here.

    Santarsiero is battling businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton for the Democratic endorsement in the contest for that seat.

    Rookie gets some love in the burbsAnd Lindy Li, the 25-year old Democrat who within the last month decided to change the congressional district she’s running in, has picked up some endorsements, including one from the chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party.

    Li announced that she has the support of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who chairs the Philadelphia party, along with some Asian-American congressional representatives from other states, some local Democratic officials and two unions, Machinists Local 1776 and Plumbers Local 690.

    You can see the endorsements here.

    Li is a Princeton graduate who worked as a financial manager and has impressed Democratic Party operatives with her fundraising ability.

    Li was going to seek the nomination in the 7th Congressional District in the western Philadelphia suburbs, but has instead chosen to run in the 6th District, which includes large parts of Chester County. The seat is now held by freshman Republican Ryan Costello.

    Li first faces businessman Mike Parrish in the Democratic primary.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.