Incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County won reelection, and Central Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry survived a strong challenge to retain his seat, as Democrats’ ambitions to grow their majority in the U.S. House also appeared to suffer setbacks elsewhere around the country.
With nearly 90% of the projected vote total counted, Fitzpatrick held a 57%-43% advantage over Democrat 75,000 Democrat Christina Finello.
Perry’s margin over Eugene DePasquale, the state’s highly visible auditor general, was 53%-47% with almost 95% of the votes tabulated.
County elections officials still were counting prodigious amounts of mail ballots, and those have been benefiting Democrats more strongly than the votes cast at the polls on Tuesday.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Susan Wild of the Lehigh Valley, Matt Cartwright of Northeastern Pennsylvania, were also waiting to learn the results of their races. Although the election had not yet been called, Rep. Conor Lamb who represents suburban areas outside Pittsburgh, has claimed victory over Republican Sean Parnell.
Parnell’s campaign said he declaration was premature, and on the day that President Donald Trump called on Pennsylvania to stop counting cast mail ballots, Parnell called for the counting to proceed.
Fitzpatrick campaigned as a moderate and kept Trump at arm’s length in one of the state’s most-populated and politically divided counties.
Trump narrowly lost the county in 2016, but Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was expected to win it handily. Fitzpatrick had even declined to say whether he would vote for Trump.
Finello, an Ivyland Borough council member, argued that Fitzpatrick was Trump’s ally when it counted most, pointing to Fitzpatrick’s vote for the 2017 GOP tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy.
But Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent who secured a third term, cultivated an independent profile, as had his late brother, Michael, who occupied the seat before him.
For example, in 2017 he opposed the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and this year he was one of just three Republicans who voted for the police reform measure advanced by House Democrats after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Fitzpatrick managed to survive the so-called blue wave of the 2018 midterm elections when three Democratic women flipped GOP-held seats in Philadelphia’s collar counties.
In a statement he issued Thursday, Fitzpatrick referred to “building consensus” and to “fighting against the bigotry of hyper-partisanship and extremist ideological purity that is destroying our nation.” Our People’s Movement is about building bridges at a time when too many are trying to burn them. We must start listening more than lecturing,
The Fitzpatrick seat was one of several that Democrats had been coveting to strengthen their House majority. Going into the election, Democrats held a 232-197 advantage with five vacancies.
Nationally, at least six Democratic incumbents lost, and none of 10 targeted Republicans were defeated, Politico reported Wednesday.
Democrats also had eyed the seat held by Perry in Pennsylvania’s 10th District, which includes parts of Cumberland, York, and Dauphin Counties. Perry has been a steadfast Trump supporter.
The Democratic nominee, DePasquale, has maintained a high profile during his stint as auditor general, holding frequent news briefings to announce questionable practices he had uncovered in government agencies.
DePasquale had run as a moderate, hoping to win by gathering votes in Harrisburg and its suburbs, where the Democratic Party has seen some gains in the last several years.
The race had been viewed as one of the most intensely contested congressional battles in the country, with DePasquale consistently polling just a few points behind Perry in the lead-up to the election, and most independent analysts labeling it a toss-up.
Perry, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard and an Iraq War veteran, has represented the district since 2013.
He is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Before winning the seat in 2012, he was a state representative for part of the area.
DePasquale, also a former state representative, touted his experience investigating government agencies in attempting to appeal to moderate Republican and independent voters.
The district, redrawn by the state Supreme Court ahead of the 2018 election for what it ruled was GOP gerrymandering, constitutes somewhat of a microcosm of the country, with urbanized areas of Harrisburg and York, smaller towns such as Carlisle, rural areas, and both inner- and outer-ring suburban communities.
Staff writer Thomas Fitzgerald contributed to this article.