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Fitzpatrick-Houck primary offers GOP 1st District voters a choice


Financially, it’s a David and Goliath match as Republicans head for the polls in Tuesday’s primary election to select their candidate for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District.

The contest pits U.S. Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick, a moderate Republican from Middletown Township, against challenger Mark J. Houck, of Haycock Township, an anti-abortion activist.

The winner will most likely face Democratic candidate Ashley Ehasz, of Southampton, in the Nov. 5 general election. She is an Army veteran and Apache helicopter pilot, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

During the first quarter of this year, Fitzpatrick raised $1 million while Houck took in about $80,000, according to campaign finance reports.

Although the two men, both Catholics, have similar family backgrounds and educations, they do offer voters a choice on abortion, which is likely to be a major issue in the November general election.

Houck opposes all abortion, even in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. Fitzpatrick has voted for some abortion restrictions and opposed others. He has said he is not opposed to early term abortion.

Fitzpatrick 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.

Houck is a newcomer to politics. He is the founder of The King’s Men Inc., a Catholic ministry directed at husbands and fathers. He has spoken openly about his struggles with, and recovery from, a pornography addiction. He supports Trump.

Houck’s name first surfaced after an incident in front of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic in 2021. He had reportedly shoved a man who was harassing Houck’s then 12-year-old son. Later, after the FBI raided his Haycock Township home, he was tried in federal court and was acquitted. He has attributed his interest and rise in politics to the circumstances surrounding that case.

Neither candidate responded to requests for comment; however, they have frequently and publicly discussed their platforms and priorities.

Fitzpatrick has pledged to “fight to fix a broken Washington,” and believes he is uniquely qualified for that due to his FBI background. He was a special agent, national director for the FBI’s Campaign Finance and Election Crimes Enforcement Program, and national supervisor for the FBI’s Political Corruptions Unit.

Fitzpatrick says he supports term limits for members of Congress, though he has not said how many terms he plans to seek. He wants to reduce drug abuse and deaths from the opioid crisis, increase resources for law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, and limit illegal immigration while supporting Dreamers, children brought to this country without legal permission.

Houck supports restoring constitutional values, lowering the national debt and defunding programs that he believes to be unconstitutional, including those of the U.S. Department of Education. He believes educational issues should be decided by local communities.

Houck said he will work to limit illegal immigration, increase military funding and “rebuild the foundations of faith, family, and freedom.”

Fitzpatrick, 50, grew up in Levittown, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from LaSalle University, an MBA at Penn State and a law degree from Dickinson. He is also a certified public accountant. He has been endorsed by many community organizations.

Houck, 49, born in Meadowbrook, Montgomery County, earned a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Catholic University of America, where he was an All-American football player, and a graduate with a business degree from Holy Family University. He has worked as a lecturer, educator and juvenile criminal justice counselor.

He has been affiliated with Knights of Columbus, Pennridge GOP, Lehigh Valley Tea Party and Palisades youth football. He is married and the father of seven children.

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