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PA-01: Houck’s Claims of Freedom Caucus Support Come Under Scrutiny

Mark Houck, Brian Fitzpatrick

Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District Mark Houck has stated that four GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-10), supported his primary run against incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick (R-01).

Now, that support seems to be dissipating.

A member of the House GOP leadership – Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) – sent a text message to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) denying his encouragement. In fact, that messages said that the only interaction the two had was a greeting and handshake after Houck testified before a House subcommittee.

A source familiar with the text message said that the chain then became an informal strategy session on defending Fitzpatrick, seen as the most vulnerable Republican House member in the Keystone State, while also distancing themselves from Houck, who has come under scrutiny for controversial comments about pornography and gender roles.

The back-tracking does not come as a surprise, as the GOP realizes that it cannot afford to risk a seat it has held in a purple district such as Bucks County, given its slim five-seat majority in the chamber.

Houck, a prominent Catholic antiabortion activist, was arrested Sept. 23, 2022, following a federal indictment alleging two violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, commonly referred to as the FACE Act. He was acquitted on both counts.

He has named members of the House Freedom Caucus – Perry, Johnson, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) – as people who had “influence” over his decision to run.

“I didn’t want to run for Congress. People have been encouraging me … to consider it. I eventually could not refuse it thankfully for the influence of Reps. Jim Jordan, Chip Roy, Scott Perry, and Mike Johnson,” Houck told the Vortex.

Houck also responded to a story from Punchbowl News, a Washington, D.C.-based political website, that indicated Perry was encouraging him to run against Fitzpatrick.

“He’s not colluding with me to take Brian Fitzpatrick out of office,” Houck said.

“I said, ‘Would you do it if you were me?’” Houck recalled. “(Perry) said, ‘I already did it so there’s your answer.’”

However, Houck insisted that, “It wasn’t like that at all.” Perry, he said, “left it to me to make a decision” and urged him to pray on it and decide by the end of June.

“While Congressman Perry greatly respects Mr. Houck’s tireless dedication to fighting for the unborn, he only encouraged Mr. Houck to pray about a decision to run for Congress,” said Perry spokesperson Matt Beynon.

Fitzpatrick had $2.9 million on hand at the end of the second quarter of this year, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The NRCC “will not shy away from protecting our incumbents from primary challenges if necessary,” Jack Pandol, the group’s communications director, said in a statement.

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