Get our newsletters

Fitzpatrick beats back another primary challenge, will face Ehasz in November


U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick appeared to cruise to the Republican First District nomination Tuesday night, handily beating conservative challenger Mark J. Houck and setting up a November rematch with Democrat Ashley Ehasz, his 2022 General Election opponent. Ehasz was unopposed in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Primary Election.

With all precincts counted at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Fitzpatrick held a more than 16,000-vote lead on Houck, an anti-abortion advocate from Haycock Township, who rose to prominence in 2021 after an alleged incident in which he was accused of shoving a man in front of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood location. It led to his subsequent arrest during an FBI raid on his home. He was later acquitted.

If the unofficial tallies hold, Fitzpatrick’s margin of victory would be in line with his last three primary challenges. Fitzpatrick pulled 61% of the vote to Houck’s 39%. Fitzpatrick’s last three primary challengers — Alex Entin in 2022, Andy Meehan in 2020 and Dean Malik in 2018 — managed 34%, 37% and 33% of the vote, respectively.

In a statement that made no reference to Houck, Fitzpatrick stressed the need for bipartisanship and two-party solutions to the nation’s challenges.

“To the very core of my being, I believe in bringing people together,” said Fitzpatrick in a statement. “I’m asking everyone in our community to join us in leading our People’s Movement of bipartisanship and center-forward problem-solving and fighting against the bigotry of hyper-partisanship and extremist ideological purity that is destroying our nation.”

As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Houck had not reacted to the returns on social media.

Fitzpatrick gained a large lead in mail-in voting tallies that were reported shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Houck siphoned off a portion of the lead as in-person ballots were counted but, in the end, the gap was too large to overcome.

Fitzpatrick, a former F.B.I. agent, is aiming for a fifth term in the U.S. House, where he is ranked as its most independent member. He is vice-chair of the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of Democrats and Republicans who work together to build consensus. He is neither a supporter of MAGA Republicans nor Donald J. Trump, the party’s current standard bearer, though he has not said which presidential candidate he plans to vote for in November.

Ashley Ehasz, of Upper Southampton, is an Army veteran and Apache helicopter pilot, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.