BRISTOL, PA. (CBS) — In Bucks County this fall, the same two men who ran for Congress in 2006 are running again, but make no mistake, this is a very different race.
The last time around, Republican Mike Fitzpatrick was the incumbent, and it was a very difficult year for Republicans. This year, Democrat Patrick Murphy is the incumbent, and it looks like Democrats are the party in trouble.
“It’s 180 degrees different,” Fitzpatrick told Eyewitness News during a brief sit-down interview at his campaign headquarters in Langhorne. “People are hurting today. They’re out of work. The unemployment rate is stuck at 10 percent.”
Fitzpatrick says Democrats are to blame for the still slow economy. We asked him what he thought caused this recession.
“Out of control spending, bad national policies, rising health care costs,” he said. He says the Obama Administration is at fault for that, but admits the Bush Administration is not guilt-free.
Fitzpatrick says he will fight to repeal the health care bill and wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, including those in the wealthiest income bracket.
Rep. Patrick Murphy says the nation can’t afford to continue tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and he makes it clear who he blames for the recession: Republicans.
“The Bush-Fitzpatrick economic policies ran our country into a ditch, and we’re working our way out of it,” he said. He points to Fitzpatrick’s votes in Congress for free trade agreements that let jobs be shipped overseas.
“For Mike Fitzpatrick to talk about unemployment after he shipped jobs overseas is like an arsonist complaining about the fire department’s response times,” he said.
Voters in the eighth congressional district – which includes all of Bucks County and slivers of both Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia – have been subject to negative attack ads for weeks.
Several voters who spoke with Eyewitness News say they’re tired of the attacks.
But several voters also indicated they’re inclined to support Fitzpatrick because they think spending in Washington is out of control.
“My kids and my grandchildren will be paying the Chinese interest on that debt forever and that’s wrong,” said Rich Petrucco of Lower Makefield Township.
So far, there’s little polling to indicate which direction this race is moving. A Franklin and Marshall College poll released on September 23 shows Mike Fitzpatrick up 14 points with a lead of 49 percent to Murphy’s 35 percent among likely voters.
Murphy says he thinks the race is a lot closer than that.
Voter Pat Kolle of Lower Makefield Township agrees: “I will probably go into the voting booth still undecided who I am going to pull the lever for.”
Reported By: Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3