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Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick gets on the elevator

Fitzpatrick calls out GOP primary challenger

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) is coming out swinging against primary challenger Mark Houck, attacking him as dishonest.

Fitzpatrick is also talking up his relationship with some of the more hardline members of the House GOP conference.

To rewind here, we reported during August recess that Houck, an anti-abortion rights activist, said House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) encouraged him to take on Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s 1st District.

“Mark Houck dropped a lot of names saying people encouraged him to run,” Fitzpatrick told us. “I think [he] is being very disingenuous by saying he was endorsed.”

Fitzpatrick said Perry called him shortly after our story ran to say Houck’s comments about his support were false. Houck told us he met Perry when the Pennsylvania Republican brought him as a guest to the State of the Union this year and the two had stayed in touch.

“Scott called me first thing in the morning and told me that what Mr. Houck was saying was not true, and I believe him and take him at his word,” Fitzpatrick said.

Perry also reiterated to us that he and Fitzpatrick were “great friends,” saying the Houck drama was the “media ginning things up.”

Aside from Perry, Houck name dropped House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) as influencing his decision to run.

Houck declined to comment for this piece.

The Pennsylvania primary election is scheduled for April 23. Fitzpatrick is a strong favorite to win in a district carried by President Joe Biden in 2020.

Fitzpatrick has faced a GOP primary challenger in the past three election cycles, but he has won the general by roughly 30 points each time.

That said, Fitzpatrick is taking a more vocal role in talking about his reelection and running as a pragmatist in a purple district.

“I believe in bipartisanship to my core and I know that’s the right thing to do,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel very close to my district. I feel like I don’t have to worry about a primary challenger… I’m going to easily win my primary and easily win my general.”

Fitzpatrick, who co-chairs the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is one of the most moderate Republicans in the House. That makes him a prime target for Democrats and Republicans to the right of him.

Also: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) will endorse Wendy Davis in the crowded GOP primary for Indiana’s open 3rd District seat. The district is currently represented by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is running for Senate.

Hinson will hold a virtual Facebook conversation with Davis at 12 p.m.

“I am proud to endorse Judge Wendy Davis for Congress in Indiana’s Third District,” Hinson said in a statement. “I know that she will carry on Congressman Banks’ conservative efforts in Washington!”

Mica Soellner

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.