Unions Line Up Behind Republican Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania House Race

Incumbent’s labor support complicates Democrats’ hopes of flipping seat

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., here at a 2017 town hall meeting in Bensalem, Pa., has the financial support of high-powered labor groups as he runs for a second term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a sign of trouble for Democrats’ hopes of flipping a Pennsylvania House seat, high-powered unions are pledging support for the Republican incumbent in the 1st District in suburban Philadelphia. 

Freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has raised more than $200,000 from labor groups, dwarfing the $3,000 collected by his Democratic opponent, multimillionaire philanthropist Scott Wallace, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, attributing the numbers to OpenSecrets.org.

Fitzpatrick has sided with Democrats on key issues, including a vote last year against his party’s effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, the newspaper reported. He criticized a recent Supreme Court decision weakening unions. And he was one of a few Republicans who were openly critical of President Donald Trump’s performance at a news conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month, saying Trump was “manipulated” by the Russian president.

And in a state where Democrats almost always count on labor support, Fitzpatrick has won nods from numerous influential unions, including the official endorsement of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, an alliance of 45 unions across the state. 

G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin and Marshall College, told the paper that Wallace’s campaign still has millions of dollars to pour into his campaign. But “it diminishes the enthusiasm gap that the Democrats have,” he said.

The 1st District, which was redrawn earlier this year after the state Supreme Court found the existing congressional map unconstitutional, went for Hillary Clinton by 2 points in 2016. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent.  Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilts Republican.

Watch: Money Isn’t Everything, Women Candidates Win Big, and Other Takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.