By Tom Waring
Wire Staff Writer
The Democratic committees in Bucks and Montgomery counties have both voted to hold open primaries in the 8th Congressional District.
The candidates are Shaughnessy Naughton, a publishing company owner and scientist from Point Pleasant, and Kevin Strouse, a former U.S. Army ranger and CIA officer from Bensalem.
The winner of the May 20 primary will face Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, who is serving his third term. He served in 2005–06 before being defeated. He regained the seat in 2010.
The district includes all of Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County.
Last week, Naughton and Strouse addressed the Montgomery County Democratic Committee at a nominating convention.
Naughton drew applause when she told committee members, “I’m running to replace Mike Fitzpatrick this year.”
Unlike Strouse, who grew up in Delaware County, Naughton is a Bucks County native. She recalls her mom getting arrested at a “Dump the Pump” rally in the 1980s in protest of a water supply project in her hometown of Point Pleasant. Opponents worried that the pumping station would have a negative impact on the Delaware River and lead to further residential development. The project was ultimately approved.
Today, the big environmental issue is natural gas drilling.
“We need a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin,” Naughton said.
Naughton described herself as a “strong progressive voice” who will protect Social Security and women’s rights and promote policies geared toward increasing prosperity. She faulted Fitzpatrick for not spending enough time meeting with constituents and being part of a gridlocked Congress.
“I’m tired of nothing getting done in Washington, D.C.,” she said.
In her view, she’d be the strongest Democrat to take on Fitzpatrick in the general election.
“He doesn’t want to face me in this race,” she said.
Strouse told the MCDC members that he is running, in part, to build a better future for young people, including his children Wally and Charlotte.
The candidate spoke of fighting for the country during stints in Afghanistan and Iraq and with the CIA.
“I intend to continue fighting for it when I get down to Congress,” he said.
Two issues that are high on Strouse’s agenda are protecting Social Security and improving education, specifically increased access to early childhood education.
Strouse faulted right-wing and Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress for stalling legislation, adding that Fitzpatrick votes the way House Speaker John Boehner and Tea Party groups tell him to.
“He is complicit,” Strouse said of Fitzpatrick.
Strouse has earned the endorsements of the Office and Professional Employees International Union and Laborers’ Union Local 57.
“Kevin has proven he’s a true leader that can be counted on to make things happen for the working families of Pennsylvania,” said OPEIU International President Michael Goodwin. “He’s demonstrated his leadership skills and ability to meet any challenge that comes his way as an Army ranger protecting our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. His impressive background and concern for the working people of Pennsylvania makes him the best person to lead the state forward.”
Walt Higgins, business manager for Local 57, said the choice was clear. He said Strouse’s Army service shows he puts his country first and is the mark of a true leader.
“Kevin Strouse is clearly the strongest candidate to take on Congressman Fitzpatrick in the fall and deliver a win for the hard-working families of the 8th District,” he said.
In all, Strouse has eight union endorsements.
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick last week joined some colleagues at a news conference outside the Capitol, where they voiced concerns regarding what they see as the Obama administration’s growing executive overreach and failure to adhere to the laws passed by Congress.
“It’s time the president works with Congress, not around it. Nobody is above the laws that are written, nor should the chief executive be able to selectively enforce the law, as it erodes Americans’ faith in our system of government,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said the president’s willingness to go around Congress harms the balance between branches and makes both chambers worry that legislation they pass might not be executed.
Obama has signed more than 170 executive orders and taken unilateral action on a number of other instances, including at least 16 rewrites of his healthcare law.
“Abraham Lincoln said the best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly,” Fitzpatrick said. “Time and again, the administration has selectively chosen which Affordable Care Act mandates and deadlines to enforce. To me, that clearly indicates the concerns all of us have about the president’s healthcare law are coming true.”