A week before the Democratic National Convention arrived in Philadelphia, the 8th District congressional race was dubbed as one of the hottest competitions in the United States by several national media outlets.
Delegates representing Bucks at the convention said the county is seen as crucial for the presidential race as well.
“I’ve been told by the strategists within the Clinton campaign that they have it targeted as the №1 county in Pennsylvania. The Republicans have targeted it. With that much targeting, it definitely brings some attention,” said John Cordisco, chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee and a Hillary Clinton delegate at the convention.
Pennsylvania may have reached full-on swing-state status, though it went blue through the last six presidential elections. That was evident in the attention paid to the state’s delegation at the Republican National Convention, with notable speakers like GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence expressing that sentiment directly to them.
In Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders and actor-activist Danny Glover both canceled scheduled appearances with the Pennsylvania delegation. Pennsylvania attorney general candidate Josh Shapiro, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Philadelphia councilwomen Blondell Reynolds Brown and Cindy Bass spoke instead at the Wednesday breakfast.
“It’s more about how much Pennsylvania can do to accommodate people coming from outside of it,” Cordisco said.
The state hosting the convention speaks for itself, some delegates believed.
“We got a lot of attention,” 8th District Clinton delegate Kathy Boockvar said. “Being the host state was definitely important.”
Despite resistance from the Bernie-or-bust supporters in other states, Pennsylvania seemed to rally behind the party, with most committing to Hillary Clinton in the end.
Pat Mertens Boyle, a Sanders delegate and Bucks committeewoman from Warminster, said she was happy to see the Democratic platform take on many of Sanders’ issues.
“I knew all along I would support the Democratic ticket in the fall. I was hoping it went a little different, but we kind of saw the writing on the wall,” she said. “There were important issues that wouldn’t have been there without Bernie and all his people.”
Clinton delivered on this notion during her acceptance of the party’s nomination, touching on Sanders campaign themes like overturning the Citizens United decision, taking on Wall Street and making college education affordable for poor and middle-class families.
“Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all,” Clinton said. “We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt.”
Roll call, where Sanders moved to suspend convention rules and Vermont’s 22–4 vote in his favor and instead nominate Clinton by acclamation, was seen as the first move toward this party unity for Pennsylvania delegates.
The second was Michelle Obama’s much-lauded speech later Monday night.
“She managed, I think, to make every single person in the room want to come together and move forward. That’s what we needed to do and she got us on that path,” Boockvar said.
It will be interesting to see how these issues shape November’s congressional race in Bucks between Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democratic state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.
Neither have said much about the presidential race so far. Santarsiero did not speak or appear at the DNC, and Fitzpatrick’s silence on whether he will support Trump has become a target for Democrats.
Following the convention, though, Democratic delegates seem sure that these races will move in tandem in their favor.
“As Bucks County goes, the state is going to go. I absolutely believe that,” Mertens Boyle said. “Steve Santarsiero has to beat Brian Fitzpatrick and Hillary Clinton has to beat Trump. That’s gonna be a tough call in Bucks County.”