I have been running against real Republicans. ... And the real Republicans that I have been running against have been easy to catch red-handed telling outright lies. — Rep. Matt Cartwright
I have been running against real Republicans. ... And the real Republicans that I have been running against have been easy to catch red-handed telling outright lies. — Rep. Matt Cartwright
This Democrat and Republican from Pennsylvania are part of a unique group in an increasingly polarized country
The two Eastern Pennsylvania congressmen come from different political parties: Cartwright is a Democrat from the Scranton area, while Fitzpatrick is a Republican from Southeastern Bucks County. But the political pressures they face are not that dissimilar. In 2020, despite Cartwright winning by more than 3 percentage points, former President Donald Trump carried his district. That same year, President Joe Biden won Fitzpatrick's district but the Republican congressman won by a staggering 13 percentage points.

In an increasingly polarized country, where gerrymandering has created scores of districts where only one party can easily win, Cartwright and Fitzpatrick are unique: Only 16 members of the US House represent districts that voted for the opposing party's presidential nominee in 2020, a markedly small number for a 435-person legislative body.

While both congressmen have long frustrated operatives from their opposing parties -- Cartwright has served in the House since 2013 and Fitzpatrick since 2017 -- they survive by getting support from voters who traditionally vote with their opponents. Like clockwork, Cartwright and Fitzpatrick win, defying the political tilt of their districts and repeated attacks linking them to the extremes of their parties. Fitzpatrick, a more moderate Republican who routinely touts his bipartisan streak and local credibility, was regularly tied to Trump and some of the most conservative members of his party in 2020, while Cartwright was linked to more liberal positions like total amnesty for undocumented immigrants and defunding the police, neither of which he supports.

With the 2022 midterms looming, the future of each party in a post-Trump White House world has yet to be solidified. Cartwright and Fitzpatrick, just like in 2020, will be targeted by a sweep of committees and outside political groups. It is how the two members deal with the political pressures of a Washington controlled by Democrats, however, that will speak volumes about each party's future in swing districts.

"It's very frustrating," Fitzpatrick told CNN in an interview last month, speaking about the Republican opposition to the bipartisan infrastructure package currently being debated in the House. "What I say to my colleagues is you can criticize what we built, but you better have an alternative that's better. ... For people to be on the side of the road lobbing bombs at us when they are offering no alternative, that's not OK."

Fitzpatrick survived as a more moderate Republican during Trump's years in office, including multiple attempts to unseat the congressman from the right. But with Trump still looming as the dominant force in the Republican Party, the congressman's ability to operate as "a fiercely independent" member of Congress -- something he calls himself -- at a time when Republicans are demanding loyalty will speak to Trump's broader power inside the party beyond the deepest of red districts.

... Meanwhile, Cartwright, unlike many Democrats in red districts, has refused to run away from more progressive policies supported by his party, branding himself as a progressive who is in line with much of the Biden agenda. That ability to run with, and not against, Biden in northeast Pennsylvania, an area that has trended toward Republicans for years, speaks to the popularity of the President's plans, especially with more moderate voters that helped elect him nearly a year ago.

Cartwright, somewhat mockingly, disregarded Democratic concerns that Republicans stand a chance to win back the House in 2022 because of polls showing a "generic Republican candidate" would win a House race right now and argued the best way for Democrats to win is to get things done with a Biden presidency.

"You have polls come out once in a while and people run around with shocked expressions on their faces saying the generic Republicans are ahead. And sure, I might have trouble against a generic Republican," he said. "But the thing is, I have been running against real Republicans. ... And the real Republicans that I have been running against have been easy to catch red-handed telling outright lies."
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/05/politics/congress-crossover-districts-brian-fitzpatrick-matt-cartwright-pennsylvania/index.html