Politics & Policy

George Will on Waves and the ‘Bucks County Rematch’

George Will looks at one of Pennsylvania’s hottest races, PA-8, where erstwhile congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is facing incumbent Democrat Pat Murphy.

Will hits upon an important aspect of this race that few have commented on, which is, first, that Fitzpatrick lost the seat in 2006 by less than 2 percent of the vote, even while fellow Republicans were wiped out in the wave of that year by 20-40 points.

Fitzpatrick, who had been a Bucks County commissioner for 10 years, won in 2004, a good Republican year. He lost in the Republicans’ annus horribilis of 2006, when they suffered the first of two consecutive wave elections. (In a wave, a party gains or loses a net of at least 20 seats in the House of Representatives.) The Democrats’ 2006 candidate for governor was Ed Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor who was much loved in the suburbs for making the central city —  he was called the “mayor from Pine to Vine,” two downtown streets —  safe for them to go in for meals and entertainment. Rendell defeated his Republican opponent in the 8th District by 40 points. So, 2006 was a Republican nightmare: Incumbent U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum lost the district by 20 percent.

Still, Fitzpatrick lost by just 1,518 votes out of 249,817 cast, and he carried the Bucks County portion of the district. He did not attempt a comeback in 2008 because he was receiving chemotherapy and radiation for colon cancer. He is now well.

When Battle ‘10 spoke with Fitzpatrick last week, he described himself as a “center-right candidate” in a “center-right” district.

That certainly seems to be the case, and in a year when even many Democrats are disgusted with the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda, Pat Murphy may be the one retired for forgetting those center-right roots.

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