Monday, August 21, 2006

Comments on the Fitzpatrick / Murphy Debate

Last Friday incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy, his Democratic challenger for the 8th congressional district, debated on a local radio station, WBCB. I wasn't able to hear it on the radio or get a live feed on the Internet, but the Murphy campaign has provided me with a transcript.

The post will have a few general nitpicks and an overview of the topics discussed.

For the general nitpicks. Rep. Fitzpatrick mentioned four times in the debate that he is a "life-long resident of" or has "lived his entire life in" the 8th district. He does this to contrast himself to Murphy who has been in the military for some years. And yet, Fitzpatrick, whose house biography gives his age as 41, went to college in Florida and to law school in Carlise, PA, neither of which are in the 8th district. If he took the traditional amount of time to complete a BA and a law degree that is at least 7 years, or nearly 20% of his life. If he exempts his time out of the district for college he should exempt the years Murphy was in college out of the district. Is he counting Murphy's military service as time out of the district? That might lose a few veteran's votes.

Fitzpatrick also says he was asked to run for Bucks County Commissioner. Actually, he was appointed to fill out the last year of Mark Schweiker's term when Schweiker was elected to be lt. gov. (See "One Meeting Into Office, Fitzpatrick Wants Full Term," by Leslie Kelin Funk Morning Call 1/26/95). He was re-elected in his own right after that, but his initial time as a commissioner was the result of an appointment.

Now for the topics discussed. They each had about 2 minutes to give a biography and overview of experience, followed by 2 minutes on the most important issues facing the 8th district. Murphy said people don't believe in government anymore. Mentions he is a veteran of the Iraq War. Says he is against privatizing Social Security. Says Medicare Part D is flawed. Third issue is law enforcement.

Fitzpatrick says people are looking for someone they can believe in. Mentions (twice) he has lived in the district his whole life. Says he is an independent voice (i.e. not always in agreement with Bush). Puts all three issues in one sentence: succeeding in war against terrorism, illegal immigration, "protecting our families and protecting our freedom" (no idea what this last one means).

The first caller asks multiple questions. The moderator limits answers to their positions on the proposed veterans cemetery in Bucks County. Fitzpatrick discusses his work on the project but does not provide a lot of detail. Murphy mentions that he himself is a veteran as is his father and three uncles. Says Fitzpatrick announced the cemetery was a done deal when in fact it is not. Fitzpatrick responds and discusses local zoning issues need to be dealt with. Murphy reiterates that Fitzpatrick and Santorum announced that the cemetery would be coming to Bucks County when it was not yet decided.

The second caller asked about their experience putting away dangerous criminals. Murphy mentions his father was a Philadelphia Police officer for 22 years. Discusses his work in the military as a prosecutor, including prosecuting child predators. He brings up the MySpace bill that Fitzpatrick introduced. Fitzpatrick says he is also from a family of law enforcement but does not provide details other than his own work in government. They go back and forth on the MySpace bill.

The third caller askes if they would support an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran. Fitzpatrick says yes. Murphy asks him to confirm that. They go back and forth. Murphy mentions he is a veteran. He says Israel should defend itself but we should not encourage pre-emptive strikes.

The fourth caller asks about ANWR. Murphy says we should not be drilling in ANWR. Fitzpatrick says he has voted to protect ANWR. They go back and forth.

Closing arguments. Murphy says we need leaders not politicians. Says Fitzpatrick is a rubber stamp for Pres. Bush and that a change is needed. Fitzpatrick says he has lived in the district his whole life. Says he is an independent voice.

Hopefully the transcript or an audio file will be posted so you can read or listen for yourself.


phillydem said...

About the 8th. It was redrawn in 2002
to include the part of NE Phila where
Murphy is from so even if Murphy lived
in the same place his whole life, he could not have lived in the 8TH the whole time because the 8TH has changed
shape in the past 4 years. Murphy should point that out next time Fitzpatrick tries to make that an issue. The bottom line is the 8TH has
changed where IT lives, not Murphy.

AboveAvgJane said...

Even worse, Fitzpatrick lives in Middletown Twp, which is only one township away from the county border in at least 2 directions. One jiggity jog in the next redistricting and he could find HIMSELF out of the 8th. Wouldn't that be ironic?

Anonymous said...

Better yet, the 8th could be redrawn without Upper/Middle Bucks but with a substantial part of NE Philly. That'd make it an easy district for Murphy or a tough district for Fitzpatrick.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little food for thought: Word on the street is that Patrick Murphy called the DNC to find out in what district he should run. He was willing to go anywhere. The DNC needed him in the 8th to run against Fitzpatrick. Patrick Murphy is not running to represent the constituents of the 8th, he is running to begin his political career in Washington. And how will this help us, the constituents of the 8th ward? It won't because Patrick Murphy will become the voice of the democrats and not the voice of his constituents.

AboveAvgJane said...

The problem with "word on the street" is that it is often wrong or incomplete. What you are hearing is a reference to an article in a publication that is not available without subscription. I have seen excerpts of it used to criticize Murphy but when I have asked none of those quoting it have been able or willing to supply the complete text of the article. I don't have access to the publication so I can't verify all of the information. What I have seen is someone saying Murphy was approached about running in either the 8th or the 13th, and this was 2 or more years ago. Since he grew up in the 8th (or, for sticklers, his parents' house was across the street or one block over or something from the district boundary), that is where he would logically want to run, when enough people had expressed support and he decided to run. I don't know if the DNC was involved or not. My contacts with the campaign have all been with people who are based in the 8th.

One other comment, you say you think he will be the voice of the Democrats and not the 8th district. I think there is some overlap between those two groups; certainly he cannot be elected if there aren't at least a few Democrats in his district, unless all the Republicans vote for him. And it is a district, not a ward. Your passion is admirable but your logic is faulty.