In Bucks, boots and plenty of money on the ground in areas only competitive Congress race

Democratic candidate for Pa.'s 8th Congressional District

Democratic candidate for Pa.'s 8th Congressional District

Canvassers are targeting tens of thousands of people in Bucks County before Tuesday’s election, in what the local Democratic committee is calling an “unprecedented” effort to get out the vote.

In Lower Bucks over the weekend, Democratic 8th U.S. Congressional District candidate Steve Santarsierosaid the effort is expected to reach 100,000 people by the time the polls close.

“I thought it was more like 200,000,” said Bucks Democratic committee chairperson John Cordisco, noting that number is higher than in previous presidential election years.

For the Democrats, money is flowing from the top-down. National and state committees are spending big to wring every vote out of Pennsylvania.

But campaigns for the area’s hotly contested congressional race that covers all of this county and parts of Montgomery County have also upped their energy for the final stretch.  It’s an open seat, since the incumbent, Mike Fitzpatrick is retiring after this term.

Four field offices for Republican candidate Brian Fitzpatrick (Mike’s brother) were sending out canvassers, some from out of state, to cover the district.

“We make sure we get our Republican base out,” said Adam Lester, with Fitzpatrick’s campaign. “Anybody we’ve identified as a Brian supporter, we make sure we get them out as well.”

On Saturday, 21-year-old Emily Solinski of Berlin, New Jersey, had a list of 77 addresses to visit in the Bensalem area. A political science and journalism student at The College of New Jersey, Solinski said she considers herself a moderate.

NWLBcanvassx600Emily Solinski of Berlin, New Jerset, canvassing for Brian Fitzpatrick’s congressional campaign in Bensalem. (Laura Benshoff/WHYY)

“I would happily vote for a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate, as long as whatever needs to get accomplished gets accomplished,” she said, noting that she like Fitzpatrick’s career experience working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

About ten miles away, Santarsiero was knocking on doors of registered Democrats in the Kenwood section of Levittown.

“You have my vote,” one woman yelled through her screen door, before shooing the candidate along.

Eric Esterlund, a truck driver with UPS and a member of the Teamster’s union, said he would probably vote Democratic in the congressional race.

As for the presidential race, he said his mind’s not completely made up.

“[Clinton]’s more qualified and [Trump] has a point, you know what I mean,” he said. “Me personally, I’m going to go with the qualified person. My wife’s the opposite. She’s going to go with him. Which totally blows my mind but that’s how it is.”

Both campaigns in this swing district are coordinating with their state and national committees. While Democrats gladly broadcast their goals, Republican party leaders said they’re keeping their outreach plans under their hat .

“I don’t want them to know what we think our turnout is,” said Pat Poprik, chairwoman of the Bucks County Republican Committee. But rest assured, she said, the target is high.

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