The first signs of the 2018 election cycle popped up towards the end of January. The nondescript black signs along Levittown Parkway in Tullytown reminds residents of the Eighth Congressional District that Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick voted to give tax breaks to billionaires through the recent tax bill.
The “#DitchFitz” signs appeared to be the first election signs of the season. Instead of promoting any given candidate, the signs look to remind constituents of the congressman’s voting record, which is mainly in line with his Republican peers.
The signs are the result of a grassroots, nationwide movement to swing the House of Representatives left in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Swing Left group behind the sign came together as a result of the 2016 election that put President Donald Trump into office, said Kierstyn Zolfo, the group’s local community liaison.
Swing Left is active in 52 swing districts across the country. The group has such a large local presence in and around Philadelphia because the closeness of these races in the last congressional election, Zolfo explained.
“The short term goal of the signs is to remind representative Fitzpatrick’s constituents that he did not have their best interests in mind when he placed his vote for the GOP tax bill,” Zolfo said. The campaign’s goal is to help Democrats regain a majority in the House of Represents in the upcoming election, starting with the Eighth Congressional District.
The reaction from residents in the district has been positive, according to Zolfo. Pictures of the signs have popped up on social media and Fitzpatrick supporters have even placed their own messages supporting the congressman and Republican next to the #DitchFitz signs.
The rebuttal to the #DitchFitz signs points to an engaged citizenry, which Zolfo said she and her colleagues at Swing Left are glad to see.
The signs are making their way around the Eighth Congressional District.
If you look closely at the signs, the origin of them is questionable. On the signs along Levittown Parkway, “Swing Left” is marked out, while a sticker saying the signs were paid for by “Friends of PA-08” has been added.
“Political and election finance rules are really complicated. In our enthusiasm, the local group here spent money to get the signs made before we really understood that fact. Out of an abundance of caution we renamed the signs while we make sure we are 100 percent in compliance with all of those rules,” Zolfo said.
“Swing Left wants to help whichever (Democratic) candidate wins the primary to succeed in November, not to tilt the primary in any particular direction,” Zolfo explained.
The group is planning to host open houses with each of the Democratic candidates so that members can better get to know them in an informal and friendly setting.
The Fitzpatrick campaign released the following statement when asked about the signs:
“This is the same tired, backward-looking message of the extreme left that brought us stagnant GDP growth of less than 2% over the past decade, massive annual trade deficits and persistently stagnant wages. Prior to the tax reform bill, the tax code stood at over 70,000 pages, drafted in 1986 when no one had a computer in their home, written by wealthy lawyers and lobbyists to benefit wealthy lawyers and lobbyists, a code so convoluted that only the wealthy had the resources to navigate it. Ask the average working family that is now getting on average an extra $50 per week in their paycheck if that is not meaningful to them. Moreover, companies are giving across the board bonuses to workers and raising their wages which also helps workers. The small business relief is already creating more jobs. Frankly, this was the extreme left’s messaging until middle-class families began to see the results. The economic data that results from this legislation will speak for itself. Middle class families are already benefiting by seeing an increase in take home pay, and our economy will grow at a much healthier pace.”