The Magazine

The Suburbs from Hell

The GOP is in trouble in the districts around Philadelphia.

Oct 30, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 07 • By SONNY BUNCH
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Fitzpatrick, a former Bucks County commissioner, drove home that point in a debate earlier this month. Allowed to ask his opponent one question, Fitzpatrick chose not to delve into the vagaries of foreign policy or tax law. Instead, he asked Murphy, "How many school districts are there in Bucks County?" Flustered, Murphy was unable to respond.

Fitzpatrick has also managed to distance himself from President Bush on Iraq and has run TV ads portraying Murphy as indecisive on the issue. Larry Ceisler, a veteran Democratic political analyst, says Fitzpatrick runs into problems with the increasing share of his constituents who are liberal on social issues, but he has done a good job of racking up endorsements from disparate groups, including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and all five Fraternal Order of Police branches that endorse candidates. "I have both business, industry, and labor support," he says. "Not many Republicans have those kinds of endorsements or that kind of support."

Managing to insulate himself from national trends, Fitzpatrick has a simple campaign ethic: "You work hard, you're honest with people, you lay your record out in front of them, and you let them make a choice. And they'll make the right choice." It helps when you don't have to run advertisements explaining that you're not quite as morally bankrupt as you look.

Sonny Bunch is assistant editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.