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PA1: Cook Moves Race From Leans Republican to Toss Up

Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman changed the ratings of five seats this morning, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-Bucks) re-election bid against Democrat Scott Wallace.

The election analyst writes that President Trump is not wildly popular in this Philadelphia suburban district and that is defining the race, coupled with missed opportunities from the NRCC and Fitzpatrick’s campaign.

“This Bucks County seat appeared to be slipping away from Democrats when they nominated multi-millionaire former lobbyist Scott Wallace and Fitzpatrick was endorsed by the AFL-CIO and Gabrielle Giffords. But with six weeks to go, Republicans haven’t disqualified Wallace and the Democrat’s prodigious self-funding is keeping him in close contention with the incumbent,” Wasserman wrote. “Right now, President Trump’s unpopularity is defining the race, and that’s bad for the GOP.”

In the month of July, Cook moved the race in Fitzpatrick’s favor from Toss Up to Leans Republican, but with six weeks out, Democrats across the country are seeing ratings changes in their favor.

The Fitzpatrick campaign is not taking the race for granted, but want to remind people they’ve been in this situation before.

“During the entirety of the 2016 cycle, this race was listed as a ‘toss-up,‘ and Brian Fitzpatrick won that race by nine points,” said Genevieve Malandra, spokeswoman, Team Fitzpatrick. “For this current race, Nate Silver and have Brian Fitzpatrick as a 75% odds-on favorite at winning re-election.”

The Wallace campaign sees this as a pivotal moment in the race and believe their message is resonating with voters.

“This is a clear indication that Scott Wallace has all the momentum in this race and that Brian Fitzpatrick’s smear attacks are not resonating with voters,” said Zoe Wilson-Meyer, Communications Director for Wallace for Congress. “What is resonating is that Brian Fitzpatrick has voted time and again with Donald Trump and to enrich the special interests that are spending millions of dollars to get him elected.”

Wasserman believes that Fitzpatrick should be pitching voters on his moderation and support for Democrats in ads.

The Fitzpatrick campaign boasted about their endorsements from the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while again reiterating his “independent” status to distance themselves from their opponent.

“Our campaign is focused on highlighting Brian’s positions on the issues that matter most to the voters of the 1st Congressional District, like fighting the opioid epidemic and fighting to protect Medicare and Social Security,” said Malandra. “Scott Wallace’s money cannot cover up that he is, in the words of the Cook Political Report, ‘a badly flawed candidate’ and a ‘walking disaster’.”

The Wallace campaign doesn’t buy the efforts from the Fitzpatrick campaign and thinks Wallace is standing for the issues most important to the people of the 1st district.

“Families in PA-01 support Scott Wallace because he isn’t taking a dime in corporate PAC or lobbyist money and they can trust him to protect their health care, clean air and water, a woman’s right to choose, and be a reliable check on Donald Trump,” said Wilson-Meyer.

Secretary Hillary Clinton edged out President Donald Trump by a couple of points in these boundaries in 2016, while Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was awarded re-election over Democratic candidate Katie McGinty by nearly 5 points. 

The full Cook analysis can be found here.

This story was updated with comments from the Fitzpatrick and Wallace campaigns. 

14 Responses

  1. I live in PA-1 – lots of ads both ways. In my opinion Wallace is coming out ahead at least marginally in the ad battles. The ones for Fitzpatrick just slam Wallace and say what a moderate Fitzpatrick is, that’s it. The ones for Wallace slam Fitzpatrick and link him with tax breaks for the rich and other Trump policies that don’t play well out in the ‘burbs. Trump is such a weight on the Fitzpatrick campaign – if he loses, that’s the reasons.

    1. Imagine being a moderate woman and watching all of this. That is NOT the fault of Fitz but that anger and energy is going to be taken out on R candidates this cycle. BTW – mids are almost never about the economy. In 94, it was solid, in 06 it was still going well and, even in 10, we were well into recovery. It is usually about other issues. Man, is this gonna be a rough one for the GOP. Then again, we still have more than a month to go so stranger things have happened.

    1. I think that would be his maximum amount of victory. I see the other side at +4 as well. I really have no idea who will win the race to be honest. It is a tough CD to call. However, women seem remarkably energized. That is due to Trump, not Fitz. Still, it could affect this race.

  2. As comments have made here so well said, Fitzpatrick has allowed Trump to tarnish the FBI and has failed to rally his support in the wake of Trump’s negative comments about the Bureau. I think the decline of Fitzpatrick can mainly be attributed to not defending the Bureau in regard to the otherwise less than positive comments by Trump.

    1. Well, I am not sure that most voters care about that issue when it comes to their rep in Congress. Now, many do care about obstruction of justice and collusion but I don’t see the treatment of the FBI as a big issue.

      1. Fitzpatrick trades heavily on his association w the FBI — it was seen very favorably with the remaining elderly Juniper Village residents at the candidate forum on the evening of Sept 20 (the forum that his opponent Scott Wallace came early to, and Fitzpatrick came 90 minutes late to, because Fitz was trying to gather more endorsements and donor cash at a conflicting Doylestown country club ????).

        However, it is true he has not supported fellow FBI agents during the Trump admin onslaught against them; in fact Fitzpatrick made an interesting calculation to put out a press release supporting the firing of Peter Strzok, an act against Strzok’s due process, against the IG report findings, against the FBIs own internal disciplinary process. That was a whistle to the Trump base in PA01.

        It speaks to a character issue with Brian Fitzpatrick.

        1. The country is smarter than you think. Voters know that Trump is trashing the former leadership of the FBI, not rank and file agents. Only Democrats keep saying he’s smearing the entire FBI. People get the difference.

  3. This does not surprise me and the suggestion that Fitzpatrick needs to amplify his moderate stances make sense. For Gods sake, the guy was career FBI and he has been mute while Trump has savaged his former agency. That says something.

    1. Well, that is the vice many GOP Reps in swing CD’s find themselves in. If Fitz acts in any way that is critical of Trump, even indirectly, then he losses some votes on that end. They are already getting killed on the women vote. So what is the alternative? DQ Wallace. This the ads that make it seem that Wallace is anti family and anti law enforcement. It is the only strategy the Fitz team can do at this time.

  4. This CD always has the potential to be competitive. The tell here is how extremely negative Fitz has gone so early. That clearly means they have internal numbers that are awful from their perspective. I doubt you will see Trump in this CD. Maybe they can convince Condi or someone to turn out.

    My advice to all pols or potential pols is to NEVER have a foundation. It is the one vehicle that is easy to make look bad even if the intentions were good. Now Trump has one. I have a feeling his day will come but not for good intentions.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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