Correction: Due to a misunderstanding by a reporter, a correction to the story has been made. Fitzpatrick’s father ran for Supervisor as a Democrat before the congressman was born, not as he was growing up.
Growing up in Levittown and serving in the FBI for 14 years made Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick who he is today.
The 44-year-old first time legislator and former lawman with training as a lawyer, emergency medical technician, and accountant said he’s proud of his background and his aim to be above politics and do what is best for the constituents in his district.
He’s a Republican and hammered down that he values his parties’ core principals, even in an age when President Donald Trump’s brand of Republicanism has taken center stage. The website FiveThirtyEight’s vote tracker puts Fitzpatrick as voting in line with Trump’s views about 84 percent of the time. For comparison, many Republicans in the House of Representatives voted with the president position more than 95 percent of the time.
While Democrats and his competitor Scott Wallace have focused on whether he voted in line with fellow Republicans or whether he has done enough to denounce Trump, Fitzpatrick said his time in Congress has been about serving residents and hearing differing points of view.
During a sit down interview at Moish and Itzy’s Deli and Restaurant in Middletown, Fitzpatrick said he’s proud to focus on the values of the district and work with members of both parties, but he knows he is not going to please everyone.
Throughout the campaign, Fitzpatrick and his team have made note of his ranking as being among the most bipartisan lawmakers in the House of Representatives. His commercials have reflected it and his yard signs read “Ranked #1 Most Independent.” At debates, he’s been chided for often noting repeatedly that he is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus that is made up of 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats and pushes solutions for complicated problems through cooperation.
“I want to – and I want my team – to be part of the solution,” he said, citing his efforts to work with Democrats and Republicans. “Sometimes, I kind of feel like last of the Mohicans.”
“I don’t care what Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, or President Trump says,” Fitzpatrick said, adding that he is his own person serving his constituents.
One of the problems causing gridlock in Washington D.C. and division in the country, Fitzpatrick said, is the far left and far right. He said he has tried to work on solutions with Democrats and Republicans and introduced legislation to try to break the gridlock in Congress.
The congressman, a Middletown resident, stated he feels the majority of work and spending goes to the more extreme wings of both parties, while the majority of voters sit somewhere in the middle.
Growing up the youngest of eight siblings in a blue collar Levittown household helped him learn compromise and “American values,” he said.
“Levittown is the best place in the world to grow up,” he said. “Everyone had each other’s back and political party never came up.”
More on the candidates’ policy positions:
From his father, who had run as a Democrat for the Middletown Board of Supervisors before he was born, he learned about the importance of a personal relationships.
Taking a job as a special agent in the FBI had him embark on new adventures around the world, including to Iraq.
Fitzpatrick said one of the most valuable things about being in the agency was that he traveled the globe and got to interact with people who had different points of view.
When there was a time-sensitive major case, the FBI brought together people with different backgrounds to get ideas and perspectives to tackle the issue at hand, Fitzpatrick said.
“We gathered all the facts and looked at the problem,” he said.
“Diversity was a strength and not a weakness.”
Those lessons have followed him to the nation’s capital and allowed him to look at different points of view, he said.
Another important point of reference for his legislative career has been his brother, the previous Republican congressman.
While they disagree on some issues, Fitzpatrick said his brother’s advice has been key to navigate the legislative process.
“You know, the best piece of advice he gave me is leave D.C. as soon as votes are done,” Fitzpatrick said. “Get back to the district.”
Fitzpatrick and Wallace have debated and met at forums leading up the election. While they have laid of their vision for the country, Fitzpatrick also went a bit more in-depth with NewtownPANow.com on his stances.
On health care, Fitpzatick reiterated that he voted against the Trump-backed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because he felt it was not the best plan and would hurt more people than it helped.
To make it clear, Fitzpatrick added, he has no plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He also said he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions.
“Some people are born info terrible circumstances and I want to take care of them,” he said.
Fitzpatrick stated health care is one of the top issues people mention when he is out in the district.
It’s also one of the only products that “every single one of us is going to use at some point,” he said.
The congressman said health care solutions need to foster innovation and also make sure Americans are protected.
Democrats have hit Fitzpatrick for his vote in favor of the GOP tax reform bill last year. He responded by saying it’s not perfect but he feels the majority of it has helped America sustain its economic boom.
Fitzpatrick said he his is against language in the tax reform bill to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska and will fight to stop drilling.
“I looked at the architecture (of the tax code) and what is better or what is worse,” he said of voting of the tax reform legislation.
Looking at the booming economy, Fitzpatrick cited the positives and said there’s still work to be done but he feels it has helped residents on the district.
Among the continuing efforts, Fitzpatrick said he wants to help with local workforce development and filling open jobs.
Echoing statements at recent debates, Fitzpatrick said Wallace could “blow the campaign wide open” by releasing his tax returns. He explained that experts and reporters could look at both candidates’ taxes and see who has benefited from the previous and current tax code.
When asked about negative campaign ads run by both Democrats and Republicans, Fitzpatrick said he has tried to “stay true to who he is” over the course of the campaign.
This campaign has been more notably more intense than Fitzpatrick’s first in 2016 where he signed a civility pledge. Explaining the more combative campaign strategy, Fitzpatrick said he could not sit back and be a punching bag.
The campaign, he said, has reassured him that “being a moderate is incredible.”