This article is part of a DVJ series on key elections in the Delaware Valley this November.
On Election Night, keep your eyes on Bucks County.
With such great emphasis looming over the presidential and senate races this year, hardly any pundits or political watchers are viewing a race for the U.S. House as a “must watch.”
Yet if there is such a race, it might very well be Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s bid for re-election here in the Delaware Valley. It’s a race that could be a bellwether for moderate Republicans across the country and might even foreshadow the future of two-party politics in a country becoming more polarized by the day.
“What I’m most eager to see from the Fitzpatrick race is if the wave of nationalizing congressional races will crash over the 1st CD and sweep out one of the last of the members of Congress that clings to a very localized approach,” said Christopher Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College told Delaware Valley Journal. “As a political analyst I’m very interested if the ‘all politics is local adage’ has staying power at the congressional race in an area whenever everything is nationalized.”
Fitzpatrick is the lone Republican in the Delaware Valley’s congressional delegation, and he’s one of just three Republicans in the House in 2018 to have held on to a district carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
To pull off that feat, he has ceaselessly cultivated a bipartisan resume. A Washington D.C. think tank that tracks bipartisanship ranked Fitzpatrick the most bipartisan House member in the current congress, earning the highest bipartisan score the model had ever given out.
His efforts to reach across the aisle have earned him strange-bedfellows endorsements such as when the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsed him this year, just as they did in 2018.
Despite Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan track record, his challenger, Christine Finello, is portraying him as a member of the Trump machine.
“Brian Fitzpatrick pretends he is independent, but the NRCC and Republican SuperPACs pumped $8 million into his 2018 campaign,” Finello tweeted. “When the Trump GOP needs him, they know he’s always a reliable vote.”
Christina Finello is a long time Deputy Director of the Bucks County Division of Housing and Human Services.
On Tuesday Fitzpatrick’s campaign announced fundraising of $900,000 in the third quarter, “setting an all-time district fundraising record” the campaign said in a press release.
“It is no coincidence that in the very same year that Brian Fitzpatrick earned the highest independence score ever recorded in U.S. history, he likewise is setting all-time district fundraising records,” Fitzpatrick’s spokeswoman Kate Constantini said. “People across our community and across our nation are completely embracing Brian’s higher calls for unification, bipartisanship, and problem-solving.”
Hours later, the Finello team sent out a release of its own, saying in fact it was their campaign that had set a new all-time record of $925,000, and used the language of Fitzpatrick’s release to mock him.
The fundraising leaves Fitzpatrick with over $1.3 million cash on hand going into the home stretch. Finello’s release did not specify how much cash she has left for the remaining four weeks.
Until this most recent quarter, Finello generally has struggled to keep pace with Fitzpatrick in fundraising. At the beginning of July, Fitzpatrick had totaled up $2.7 million in donations compared to just $500,000 for Finello, according to FEC records.