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Pennsylvania’s 8th District Race a Fight to the Finish

BY Admin  October 27, 2006 at 1:45 PM EDT

Mike Fitzpatrick with first lady Laura Bush

Although Fitzpatrick had an early advantage to hold the district, the suburban Philadelphia race has turned into one of the most competitive and closely watched in the country. Growing animosity toward Republicans and heavy investments by Democrats helped Murphy achieve higher-than-anticipated success in his campaign, and with just days to go to the Nov. 7 elections, the race remains tight.

The close competition has prompted each party to send heavy-hitters to bolster support. In October, former President Clinton visited Bucks County to campaign for Murphy, asking constituents, “Do we got a great candidate or what?” Former presidential candidate Jonh Kerry, D-Mass., made a stop to the district on Oct. 26 where he criticized Fitzpatrick’s personal attacks and encouraged voters to vote for a change in Washington.

First lady Laura Bush traveled to Pennsylvania to support Fitzpatrick, promoting him as “a passionate advocate for families in the 8th District.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer calls this one race with “two good choices,” but that hasn’t stopped their campaigns from going negative.

Two Iraq veterans at a Fitzpatrick news conference asserted that Murphy, an Iraq veteran who has used his war experience heavily in campaigning, never served on the front line. Fitzpatrick disassociated himself with the jab, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He does take credit, however, for an attack on Murphy’s working history. A television ad from Fitzpatrick says the Justice Department has no record of Murphy’s employment there, thus claiming he lied about being a federal prosecutor in New York. Murphy, a military lawyer, said the U.S. Army holds his records, not the Justice Department.

Murphy’s attacks on Fitzpatrick are equally negative, connecting Fitzpatrick to the corruption probe of Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who is being investigated by the Justice Department for using his political influence to help his daughter, a lobbyist.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently released an ad emphasizing that Fitzpatrick’s chief of staff, Mike Conallen, worked as Weldon’s chief of staff when he allegedly took a trip to Serbia sponsored by his daughter’s lobbying firm. Conallen said Democrats had stooped to “guilt-by-association politics,” according to the Bucks County Courier Times.

Fitzpatrick also has said Murphy only moved into the 8th District two years ago for political gain.

The campaigning is expected to increase up to Election Day, especially since both candidates have large reserves of cash to use. Murphy has $632,000 remaining and Fitzpatrick has $446,000. So far, Murphy has spent $1.6 million and Fitzpatrick has spent $2.5 million, according to Congressional Quarterly.