The Lead

Another Democrat announces congressional run against Fitzpatrick in the 1st District

By: - July 25, 2019 1:13 pm

Democrat Christina Finello, a county administrator and borough councilwoman, announced in a press release Thursday that she is running for Congress against Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick currently represents the 1st Congressional District, which contains all of Bucks County and a sliver of neighboring Montgomery County.

“I’m running for Congress because our district deserves a leader who will stand up to powerful interests and fight to put families first again,” Finello said in a press release. “Through my work improving access to care and my personal experience caring for my own family, I’ve seen firsthand how America’s health care system is slanted in favor of big insurance and drug companies, instead of people seeking the care they deserve.”

Finello, a resident of Ivyland in Bucks County, currently serves as the only Democrat on the borough’s council. She’s also deputy director of Bucks County’s Housing and Human Services division. Before entering public service, the University of Pennsylvania graduate worked at a Philly nonprofit helping veterans.

First elected in 2016, Fitzpatrick replaced his brother Mike as Bucks County’s congressional representative. A moderate Republican, he has often voted with Democrats on issues including a $15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage, expanding protections for the LGBTQ community, and a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

He was even one of four Republicans who voted to renounce President Donald Trump’s racist attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and three other female House lawmakers of color.

Breaking with the party line — and the president — has earned him a primary challenger of his own, according to WHYY. Republican Andrew Meehan, a financial planner, called Fitzpatrick a “week knee’d, fake Republican” and “anti-Trump RINO,” — or a “Republican in name only” — while announcing a primary challenge.

After a disappointing 2018 defeat, Democrats already have two other names in the field, WHYY reports: Bucks County prothonotary Judith Reiss and Pennsbury School Board member Debra Wachspress.

Even as Democrats made significant gains in the Philadelphia suburbs last year, Fitzpatrick managed to withstand the blue wave with endorsements from the AFL-CIO and Everytown for Gun Safety, as well as traditional Republican backing from the Chamber of Commerce. He beat the Democratic challenger, millionaire philanthropist Scott Wallace, 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.

Fitzpatrick is one of three Republicans left in districts that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is a top Democratic target in 2020.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.