Santarsiero to Run For Congress in PA-08

State Representative Steve Santarsiero of Bucks County announced his candidacy yesterday for the Congressional seat occupied by retiring legislator Mike Fitzpatrick.  The Eight Congressional District comprises most of Bucks and includes a large chunk of Northeast Philadelphia.  Prior to Fitzpatrick it was held by Patrick Murphy.  Kevin Strauss ran unsuccessfully last year.

Santarsiero is a proven, solid progressive with good liberal values.  He is strongly pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood.  He ran for Bucks County Commissioner prior to becoming a State Representative and has distinguished himself as a progressive voice in Harrisburg.

From his campaign:

PA State Representative, Steve Santarsiero (D-31), filed his statement of candidacy this week in preparation for a run for Congress in 2016 in the 8thCongressional district seat being vacated by Congressman Mike Fitpzatrick.  Santarsiero is a dedicated public servant committed to the community who has demonstrated his ability to win seats previously held by Republicans.   A more formal announcement will come later in the year.

After watching the Twin Towers collapse in 2001 from his office window, Santarsiero left his job at a prominent law firm to become a high school teacher in the Bensalem Township School District.  He inspired his students to get involved in their community and led by example through organizing residents to stop the Matrix development, a proposed big-box shopping center in his home town of Lower Makefield.  That experience led him to run for Township Supervisor in 2003.  He won with 55% of the vote, beating a long-time incumbent and becoming the first Democrat to serve on the Lower Makefield Board in 18 years and only the second in recent memory.  He later helped secure the first ever Democratic majority on the Board and became its chairman.

In 2008, Steve Santarsiero won an open seat in the Pennsylvania state house that had been held by a Republican since it was created in 1992.  As a state legislator, Steve earned a reputation as a reformer when he repeatedly turned down legislative perks, including per diems, state cars and free health care; pushed for campaign finance reform; wrote what became the House’s new ethics rules on political activity; and became a leader on a variety of critical issues from gun safety to protecting our water and the environment to giving PA residents priority for state contracts.

“I’m excited to start preparing a campaign to represent the people of Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Congress,” Santarsiero said.  “It’s time we make Washington accountable to our citizens.  I will make it a priority to focus on keeping the middle class families of the 8th District secure while helping to grow our economy, create jobs and bring real reform to Washington.”

State Representative Santarsiero and his wife, Ronni, have lived in Bucks County for 19 years.  They have three children, Nancy (17), Billy (15), and Johnny (11).

Former Congresswoman, Allyson Schwartz, who like Santarsiero served in the state legislature before running for Congress said, “Steve Santarsiero’s entry into the race is great news for the 8th District and for our Democratic Party.  His broad support among Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters will make him a formidable candidate.”

John Cordisco, Chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, and another former state legislator, echoed Rep. Schwartz’s optimism.  

“Steve can win this seat.  He just won re-election to the state house by a landslide in a swing district in what turned out to be a very bad year for Democrats,” Cordisco explained.  “He has a clear track record of winning in a tough district, and that’s what we will need to prevail in the 2016 congressional race.”

Mike Fitzpatrick Violates Rules, Constitution on First Day

Newly elected Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) had a notable first day in office.  While fellow Republicans made fools of themselves by reading the constitution but leaving several parts out, he violated the rules by using the visitor center for a fund raiser.  House rules clearly state the room cannot be used for political purposes.  His campaign organized a get together for supporters who paid $30 apiece.  He was there instead of taking the oath of office and so missed being sworn in.  He then cast votes on the floor without having been sworn in.

A rather inauspicious start!

Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: PA-08

This is the second in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.  Today, we examine Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional district — Bucks County, Montgomery County, and northeast Philadelphia.  Currently, the 8th CD is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Patrick J. Murphy (D).  Murphy is being challenged by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick.

Where does Rep. Murphy stand on clean energy and environmental issues?  In 2009, Murphy received a 93% rating from the League of Conservation Voters. Murphy also voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), about which he correctly says, it “will create millions of new American jobs, limit the pollution that causes climate change, and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by investing in American-made clean energy.”  In addition, Murphy co-sponsored H.R. 890, the American Renewable Energy Act, as well as H.R. 2222, the Green Communities Act and H.R. 1778, the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) Program, among other excellent environmental legislation. Finally, Rep. Murphy touts the fact that “Bucks County is home to the fourth largest solar field in the United States – the largest east of the Mississippi River” and that “Nearly 1,000 people have been put to work building components for wind turbines and solar panels at the old U.S. Steel site in Fairless Hills in Bucks County.”  

In contrast, Mike Fitzpatrick says he “oppose[s] legislation currently being considered by [C]ongress that would implement a carbon 'cap and trade' system.” Fitzpatrick also says he supports “a balanced national energy policy that includes safe, nuclear power, clean coal, responsible offshore drilling and economical, renewable energy.” When he served in Congress, Fitzpatrick received a 61% League of Conservation Voters rating in 2005 and a 73% League of Conservation Voters rating in 2006.  Fitzpatrick also was a co-cosponsor with Rep. Henry Waxman on the Safe Climate Act of 2006 – which would have cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 – but now says he is against “Cap and Trade.”

We believe that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

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