Bucks’ Fitzpatrick confirms he’ll run for Congress

January 21, 2010

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick confirmed tonight that he will run for the Bucks County congressional seat he narrowly lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2006.

“I’m going to do it,” said Fitzpatrick, who fell to Murphy by 1 percent of the vote. He has scheduled a news conference for Saturday in Langhorne, where he plans a formal announcement.

Political intrigue also mounted today in Chester County, where Steve Welch said that he would not end his bid for the Sixth Congressional District seat despite the reemergence of incumbent and fellow Republican Jim Gerlach.

Rumors of Fitzpatrick’s intentions have circulated in Bucks County’s Eighth District for the last few weeks. He was spotted in Washington last week, firming up support.

A lawyer and former Bucks County commissioner, Fitzpatrick served one term before Murphy ousted him, in part by tying him to the George W. Bush administration.

Two years ago, as Murphy was trouncing Republican challenger Tom Manion in the 2008 election, Fitzpatrick was battling colorectal cancer. He has since pronounced himself cancer-free.

Fitzpatrick, 46, joins an already crowded field of nine GOP candidates lining up for the May 18 primary.

In Chester County, Gerlach is expected to draw broad support from the Republican Party. But Welch said he thought he could ride the same populist wave that helped Scott Brown, a GOP underdog, win a U.S. Senate race this week in Massachusetts.

Gerlach announced this month that he would scrap his gubernatorial run and campaign for reelection in the Sixth District, which includes parts of Chester, Montgomery and Berks Counties.

Other Republican candidates in the field then folded, but not Welch, 33, a biotechnology entrepreneur who lives in Charlestown Township, Chester County.

“It certainly was in his right to do it,” Welch said about Gerlach’s running for Congress. “It doesn’t change the fact that we need someone with outside business experience to affect job creation.”

While the odds “are certainly stacked against us,” Welch said, the current political climate might help him: “People are frustrated with business as usual in Washington. They’re frustrated with career politicians in Washington.”

Gerlach rejected the idea that all incumbents, regardless of party, are in danger from anger over federal spending and the proposed health-care overhaul.

“If incumbents have the right ideas and are working on the right policies – if they understand the concerns of hardworking voters – they’re going to be fine,” Gerlach said. “Those elected officials who don’t get it are going to get the brunt of that ire.”
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