Thursday, June 29, 2006

Congressional Candidate Reactions to Flooding in the 13th and 8th Districts

It's raining, it's pouring, and some of our congressional candidates are snoring. Let's take a look at the response, as demonstrated by press releases, web pages, emails, etc., from some area congressional candidates to recent flooding.

13th District (parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia)

Raj Bhakta, GOP candidate, has nothing on his web site about flooding at all, nor it is listed as a matter of concern on his issues page.

Incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz has nothing on her campaign site. Not about flooding, not about anything else, except a short bio and a page for contributions. However, on her legislative web site she has a special announcement box with flooding information. Click on it and you find guidelines for maneuvering through flooded areas, and signs of things to avoid, as well as suggestions for flood cleanup. These tips are taken from the City of Philadelphia's flood advice page and from FEMA. Schwartz also sent this information out to those on her email list.

This strikes me as an excellent use of resources, and not reinventing the wheel.

8th District (Bucks, a little of Montgomery County and some Philadelphia)

Incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick has this on the environment page in the issues section of his campaign web site:

Fitzpatrick has spent most of his public career working to reduce both the likelihood and impact of flooding when it occurs and fighting against construction within the floodplain. His first bill that passed the Congress addressed flooding in Bucks County and he has secured millions of dollars in federal assistance to assist Bucks County families, remove impediments within the floodplain and restore the ecosystem to its natural condition.

On his legislative web site he has photos of flooded areas and this:

Washington, Jun 29 - For residents of the 8th District in need of assistance as a result of flooding along the Delaware River, Congressman Fitzpatrick urges you to contact the following numbers: [number for flood insurance program and for his office]

Yesterday, he made a point of issuing a press release listing all of his accomplishments regarding flood control and starting with this paragraph:

"I share my constituents' concern that these heavy rains will create a situation that could surpass the damage from last year's floods. The torrent of rain that has soaked Bucks County and regions to our north now threaten to swell the Delaware River above its banks. I am in close contact with local, state, and federal authorities as well as the Delaware River Basin Commission for up-to-date information on the state of the river and what needs to be done to ensure that our residents are protected.

He remained in Washington.

His Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, has changed the main page of his campaign web site to one that calls for volunteers to house evacuees, their pets, and places to store their belongings. It also lists items evacuees need and suggestions to drop off at school where evacuees staying or the campaign office. From that page you can enter the regular web site.

On his issues page:

In Bucks County and the 8th Congressional District, we need a flood mitigation plan to avoid the damage done to Bucks County every time the Delaware floods. We need to improve the air quality in Bucks County—among the worst in the nation. And we need a plan to preserve open space.

At one Murphy event I attended preparing for the "Meeting Patrick Murphy" post, I heard him talk about a flood that happened while he was a student at King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He called his hockey teammates and fellow ROTC students to come out and sandbag. I am told that last night he sent his apologies (and his wife) to a fundraiser while he delivered supplies to shelters and helped those evacuated from their homes.

Changing the main page of a web site may seem insignificant, but in this case it isn't. Tomorrow is the end of a quarterly campaign finance reporting quarter. Murphy was in the middle of an online fundraiser. Also highlighted on his main page was the Forward Together Mapchanger's event. Candidates who can get the most votes on that site will received $5,000 from Forward Together. By replacing his main page, Murphy was risking lost votes in Mapchangers, as well as potential contributions in his own online fundraiser. By deciding not to attend the fundraiser in Philadelphia he risked alienating potential supporters (though sending Jenni, accomplished and personable in her own right, was a shrewd move).

Patrick Murphy decided that being available to his neighbors, asking his volunteers to help evacuees instead of making fundraising calls, and turning his campaign site into a resource for those wanting to contribute in some way to those evacuated, was more important than a last minute push for campaign dollars. If we talk about wanting our elected officials to have their priorities in order, I think this is a great example of someone who does.


looking italian said...

I'm sure that Raj is keeping his staff busy with other worthwhile projects - such as impersonating an unaffiliated district resident while filling various blogs with campaign propaganda.

next said...


great point regarding the end-of-quarter fundraising and website. murphy cares for the people of the 8th district. i can't believe that fitzpatrick stayed in the beltway. i guess that flag burning legislation was a top priority.

patrick murphy seems like the real deal. in seeing him speak and in a conversation with him, i think he will be a great representitive for the people of the 8th. he certainly is running a different campaign.