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Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick gets on the elevator

How Fitzpatrick messaged his speaker votes

As the speaker vacancy stretched into its second week, vulnerable House Republicans faced a political quandary: Vote for flamethrower Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) or cast a protest vote.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who represents a district President Joe Biden won in 2020, was in an interesting spot. Fitzpatrick voted for Jordan on the first two ballots, before backing then-Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry.

We got our hands on a letter Fitzpatrick wrote to a Yardley, Pa., constituent on Oct. 31 explaining his vote for McHenry. It’s a fascinating look at how Fitzpatrick messaged his votes to constituents.

Fitzpatrick touted his Oct. 20 vote for McHenry and “against Jim Jordan.” Left unsaid, however, was that on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, Fitzpatrick voted for Jordan.

The context of the letter is that Fitzpatrick’s office was responding to specific constituent feedback amid multiple rounds of the speaker election.

Central to Fitzpatrick’s political image is his role as co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and his willingness to work across the aisle. It’s this crossover appeal that has allowed the Pennsylvania Republican to consistently win reelection in a district that leans Democratic.

So when Fitzpatrick initially supported Jordan for speaker, the move raised eyebrows and led to condemnation from Democratic campaign groups seeking to unseat him.

When speaking to reporters on Oct. 18 — after Jordan’s second failed floor vote — Fitzpatrick said his vote for Jordan was “to keep the lights on.”

“It’s not for any person or against any person,” Fitzpatrick said at the time.

Fitzpatrick wrote in the Oct. 31 letter that he backed McHenry because he believed that the North Carolina Republican “would have the broadest bipartisan appeal across the Congress to get the necessary votes to re-open the People’s House.”

Fitzpatrick also pledged to “pursue two-party consensus solutions and to block any extreme legislative proposals that are inconsistent with our community’s values.”

Another interesting note: Fitzpatrick didn’t directly address his own vote for Speaker Mike Johnson.

“After multiple rounds of voting with multiple candidates, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was ultimately elected Speaker,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

— Max Cohen

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