Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Republicans' Nightmare Could Be Playing Out in PA-01

We've written it at least a dozen times, and we'll surely write it dozens more: The Democrats' road to retaking the House of Representatives runs through the 18 districts that were won by Joe Biden, but are currently represented by Republicans. We're talking seats like PA-01, which has a PVI of EVEN, was won by Biden 52%-46%, and is currently occupied by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick. It is based in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, including all of Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County.

As the GOP tries to hold on to these seats, what they really, really don't need is for abortion to become an even bigger liability than it already is. Under ideal circumstances for a member like Fitzpatrick, he would address the abortion issue as little as is possible, and his answer to the question of "So, what do you think about the Dobbs decision?" would be, "Well, I... wait, look over there! Isn't that a ruffed grouse? That's the state bird of Pennsylvania, you know."

That's wishful thinking, of course, but the situation gets vastly messier if one of these centrist members is challenged from the right by a staunch anti-abortion candidate. And that is exactly what just happened to Fitzpatrick in the person of one Mark Houck. Houck is an unknown, at least as far as politics is concerned, but he's an outspoken anti-abortion activist and is well known in those circles. He will, as you might imagine, run a single-issue campaign.

Fitzpatrick is going to have to hope that Houck (who opposes all exceptions to abortion bans, and who was just acquitted of assaulting someone at an abortion clinic) is so far out there that he doesn't attract much support. That said, these are Pennsylvania Republican voters; the same folks who gave you Doug Mastriano. There may be no "out there" that's too "out there" for them. And if Fitzpatrick has to tack rightward on abortion to keep 50% + 1 of the Republicans in his district on his side, then his words will almost certainly come back to haunt him in the general.

Not all of the Biden 18 will be challenged from the right, and not all of those who do draw such a challenge will be hurt by it. But there will be at least some of them for whom abortion access proves ruinous. The only question is how many.

We can't help but wonder if some wealthy Democrat has gotten the idea of looking into the other 17 Biden districts, picking a local anti-abortion activist in one or more of them, and agreeing to spend $1 million to help them get the Republican nomination for the House seat. Surely there are activists who would be willing to run for Congress to help the "cause." (Z)

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