Former Bucks County U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick dead at 56

    Former U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (WikiPedia photo)

    Former U.S. Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and brother of current U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, has died at age 56, according to the Bucks County Republican Party. 

    As news of his death spread, Pennsylvania politicians offered their condolences.

    “Bucks County and Pennsylvania has lost a fine public servant. Mike Fitzpatrick worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those he served,” former Gov. Mark Schweiker, said in a statement. “As Bucks County Commissioner, and later in Congress, we could always count on Mike to fight for his fellow citizens. More than anything, I will remember him as my friend for over 40 years, and I will miss him. Kathy and I will hold his wife, Kathleen, their children and family in our prayers.”

    U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said: “Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick served our commonwealth and country with great integrity, competence, and dignity. During his time as a Bucks County Commissioner, and then as a member of Congress, Mike proved time and again that it is possible to work across the aisle to make progress while remaining true to one’s principles. Kris and I extend our condolences to Mike’s wife Kathleen, their children, and the entire Fitzpatrick family.”

    In his first role in public office, Mike Fitzpatrick was appointed Bucks County Commissioner, where he served from 1995-2005. As commissioner, Fitzpatrick oversaw social agencies, coordinated the response of local governments to emergencies and responded to regional issues.

    In 2004, after his decade-long tenure as commissioner, Fitzpatrick ran for the U.S.House of Representatives in the 8th Congressional district in suburban Philadelphia. 

    Fitzpatrick beat Democrat Virginia Schrader 55 to 44 percent in the district comprising all of Bucks County and small portions of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. 

    In the House, Fitzpatrick served on the House Financial Services Committee as well as the House Small Business Committee. 

    In 2006, Fitzpatrick lost reelection to Democrat Patrick Murphy and took a hiatus from public office to work for Langhorne law firm Begley, Carlin, and Mandio.

    Two years later, Fitzpatrick decided to run for public office again, this time to represent the state’s 142nd House District, but his bid was derailed by a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Just five months later, Fitzpatrick reported that chemotherapy had forced his cancer into remission.

    Fitzpatrick said then that his decision to run for state office rather than making a bid to reclaim his former Congressional seat came from his desire to solve local problems and serve the local community.  He said he wanted to “change the way business is done in Harrisburg.”

    In 2010, Fitzpatrick ran again to reclaim the 8th district seat and won serving from 2011-2017. 

    Citing self-imposed term limits, which Fitzpatrick advocated for during his tenure in Congress, he did not seek reelection in 2016. 

    Instead, Fitzpatrick’s younger brother, Brian, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, ran for the seat (now the 1st district due to redistricting). Brian Fitzpatrick won the election in November 2016 with 54 percent of the vote. He will be up for reelection in 2020. 

    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.