FILE - PA Christina Finello, Brian Fitzpatrick

Christina Finello, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional District, and incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., faces an uncertain reelection campaign in Pennsylvania’s first congressional district – where voters skew younger and bluer since Donald Trump narrowly carried the region in 2016 – against newcomer Christina Finello.

In the four years since his first effort, Fitzpatrick’s redrawn district has left some worried about Republicans’ prospects in southeastern Pennsylvania, an area that political analysts predict could flip blue in November and provide Democrats with a stronger majority in the House of Representatives. 

At least, that’s what challenger Finello, the deputy director of the Bucks County Department of Housing and Human Services, hopes will happen. Her campaign centers around strengthening the Affordable Care Act to shield people with preexisting conditions and reduce the cost of premiums and prescription drugs.

She also advocates for restructuring student loans, universal firearm background checks, investing in alternative energy and reinstating environmental regulations loosened under President Donald Trump – among a smorgasbord of other progressive platform positions akin with the Democrats’ leftward lurching base.

Fitzpatrick himself supports reforms to Medicare Part D that cap prescription drug costs for seniors. A former FBI agent, much of Fitzpatrick’s sponsored legislation tackles criminal justice reform, emergency preparedness and – most recently – a bill that limits federal economic block grants to local governments that defund their police departments.

But he’s also earned a reputation as an anti-Trump Republican. One of his prior bills would require presidential candidates to release their tax returns. He also voted against a GOP-led effort to repeal the ACA and he supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.

He was also one of four Republicans to approve a resolution last year passed in the House that condemned Trump for making comments against four Democratic lawmakers – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – that were described as anti-immigrant.

The positioning worked in 2018, when he won in a contentious campaign against the well-funded liberal millionaire Scott Wallace. He garnered 51 percent support, carrying the district by fewer than 9,000 votes.

During a 2018 interview with The Washington Post, Fitzpatrick said his moderate views – a rarity in Congress these days – leave him isolated much of the time.

“If the majority of members of a party take one view and I take another, I would think that would be something to be applauded, not ‘What’s wrong with you for being a part of that party?’ ” he said. “It’s easy to attack people from the other party. It’s a lot harder to attack your own, and I do it all the time.”

Staff Reporter

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania's General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.