Fitzpatrick to claim open seat in Penn.
Pennsylvania 8th Congressional District to stay Republican
(CNN) -- CNN projects that Republican Mike Fitzpatrick will win his intense battle with Democrat Virginia Schrader for the open seat in Pennsylvania's 8th District.
The seat opened up when six-term Republican Representative Jim Greenwood chose to take a job in the private sector.
While the district, which includes Bucks County and small portions of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, had historically been considered a Republican stronghold (Bill Clinton could garner only 39 percent of the vote in 1992), the trend had been more Democratic of late, as Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore took 51 percent of the vote in 2000 and John Kerry was a heavy favorite to win the district.
Greenwood's retirement caught the Democrats by surprise. Since the popular Greenwood had been expected to run, Democrats all but conceded the seat, not expending as much energy in finding a candidate for a race they considered a lost cause.
Schrader, an attorney who had filed early for the race, became the Democratic candidate. Republicans, able to pick a new candidate, rallied around Fitzpatrick, a four-term Bucks County Commissioner.
The Schrader campaign, with help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), tried to make abortion a key issue, hoping to pick up the votes of socially moderate voters, who had supported the abortion-rights advocate Greenwood. Fitzpatrick was solidly anti-abortion.
The Fitzpatrick camp pointed to what they considered Schrader's spotty voting record in local elections as a sign that she wasn't ready for prime time.
A very strong showing by John Kerry in the district was expected to give Schrader a boost, while Fitzpatrick was able to stand on his own and did not have to rely on outside help. Fitzpatrick also did not resort to attack ads, at one point asking national groups to stop running negative ads.
One such ad claimed that Schrader received campaign contributions from "an extreme left-wing group" that opposed the United State's invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban. A mailer sent by the National Republican Congressional Committee linked Schrader to Hezbollah and ran the tag line, "The hate America crowd has found their candidate." Schrader was so incensed that during one debate, she demanded an apology from Fitzpatrick, then, not receiving one, stormed off stage.
Schrader also ran attack ads linking Fitzpatrick to a trash-hauling company that dumped out-of-state garbage in Bucks County. That ad proved inaccurate, as a law firm he worked for had represented the company, but Fitzpatrick himself never did.