Bristol — It’s not easy being a Congressman during a government shutdown, especially when you’re one of the few Republicans who represents a swing district. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) faces just such a crossroads.
Fitzpatrick’s Eighth District is rated R+1 by the Cook Political Report, making him one of the few vulnerable incumbents in the 2014 midterms. Therefore Fitzpatrick, as well as some of his PA colleagues, have become prime targets for Democrats who want to peal off Republican votes for a clean CR.
Democratic congressional candidate Kevin Strouse held a press conference today to criticize Congressman Fitzpatrick for not voting for a clean CR and allowing the federal government shutdown to occur.
“They finally did it after two and a half years. The Tea Party has shut down the government,” Strouse said. “Stop playing games and bring a clean bill to the floor.”
Strouse also pointed out that Fitzpatrick had previously indicated that he wanted to avoid a government shutdown yet voted for the attempts to repeal Obamacare which caused it.
“Talk is cheap, he said he wouldn’t take votes that would lead to a shutdown. Well now it’s time to put his money where his mouth is,” Strouse stated.
The small press conference took place in front of the Bucks County Veterans Center on Mill Street in Bristol Borough and was just across the street from his campaign office. He was accompanied by staff and some local supporters (including one man holding a “Fitzpatrick the Flip-Flopper” sign).
Strouse stayed on message in his statement and was able to sidestep questions from reporters that tried to get him to denounce Obamacare or congressional Democrats. While it was obvious that this was an early performance from a first-time candidate, he was able to avoid stepping on his own message or committing any gaffes.
Strouse is a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and spent eight years working in the CIA Counterterrorism Center. During his speech, he mentioned how two years when he was at the CIA he had to spend valuable work time preparing for what would happen if the U.S. hit its debt ceiling.
The event attracted several members of the media including an AP correspondent and a reporter from the Bucks County Courier-Times. Altogether, about two dozen people were assembled on the lawn to attend the event.
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick’s other prospective Democratic opponent Shaughnessy Naughton has been in the midst of her own salvo against the Congressman.
On Monday, her campaign released a statement attacking Fitzpatrick for keeping his congressional pay after stating last week that members of Congress shouldn’t accept their paychecks if the government shuts down.
Yesterday, Fitzpatrick said he was asking for his pay to be withheld and had co-sponsored the “Government Shutdown Fairness Act” which would block members of Congress from being paid during a shutdown. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution, though, prevents Congress from changing their pay during their current term.
The Naughton campaign, however, stated that Fitzpatrick is still refusing to vote for a clean continuing resolution.
“Fitzpatrick has assured the people here in the Eighth District that he will do anything he can to end the shutdown,” Naughton said. “But he is a hypocrite. He refused to vote for the clean spending bill that was negotiated last night and he hasn’t signed a discharge petition. Clearly, Fitzpatrick cares more about appeasing Tea Party leaders than he cares about the pain his own constituents are feeling from the shutdown.”
The discharge petition, supported by Democrats, is meant to bring the so-called “clean CR” to the floor. It requires 218 signatories in order to force Speaker John Boehner to act.
Naughton is a chemist who went to work with Wyeth Laboratories where she worked on Breast Cancer research. In 2003, she left to join her family’s publishing company. Since then, Naughton has been the owner and manager of all of the publishing company’s operations.
The Fitzpatrick campaign addressed all these charges yesterday with an email to supporters.
“I want you to know that I am working around the clock with members of both parties to find solutions to get the government running again to reform healthcare and focus on jobs,” he wrote.
After mentioning that he is withholding his pay and announcing his co-sponsorship of the “Government Shutdown Fairness Act”, the Congressman finished by going back to the familiar well of the much-despised Congresswoman from San Francisco.
“As the Pelosi spin machine churns on, please forward this to your friends so that they know the facts.”