WASHINGTON - The first Democrat hoping to take on Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick formally opened his campaign Thursday. Kevin Strouse, a former Army Ranger, declared his candidacy for the 2014 race in the Bucks-based Eighth Congressional District.

Strouse, 33, played up his military background and outsider status in a press release announcing his first run for public office. He served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, according to his campaign, and then worked for the CIA - for six years in counterterrorism, and two investigating illicit financial activities.

"When I was serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, it didn't matter whether the Ranger next to me was a Democrat or a Republican, all that mattered was that we worked together and got the job done," Strouse said. "I've dedicated my life to public service and solving tough challenges and I know Washington can do better at strengthening the middle class, protecting our national security and creating good-paying jobs."

Strouse, who grew up in Delaware County, left the CIA last month and moved to Bensalem. Vying for office in a moderate district, he made no mention of his party affiliation in his announcement.

He is hoping to take on Fitzpatrick in a closely divided district that has historically flipped between the parties, but turned slightly more Republican in the latest redistricting. The House Majority PAC, a Democratic group, has named Fitzpatrick as one of its top 10 targets for 2014.

Still, Fitzpatrick was targeted by national Democrats last year and easily defeated challenger Kathy Boockvar. He also ran well ahead of fellow Republican Mitt Romney.

The chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, John Cordisco, told the Bucks County Courier Times that two other people were also interested in the 2014 race.

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