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Five races to watch in Pennsylvania primaries on Tuesday

Fitzpatrick, Lee and Evans face opposition as parties pick challengers to Wild and Perry

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, faces a conservative primary challenger.
Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, faces a conservative primary challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pennsylvania will be one of the most closely watched states in November, with a high-profile Senate race and competitive House seats, not to mention it’s a pivotal presidential battleground. 

But there are only a handful of contested races in Tuesday’s primary. Just three House incumbents face primary challengers, while voters in two battleground districts will pick nominees for November.

Here are five races to watch on Tuesday and three more that will be competitive in November:

Key November matchups picked

7th District: Three Republicans are vying to challenge Democratic Rep. Susan Wild, a top GOP target, in this Lehigh Valley district. Army National Guard veteran Kevin Dellicker, who lost a 2022 primary, is running again, as are state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie and Maria Montero, a political newcomer and co-founder of the Lehigh Valley’s Power of Women Networking Initiative.

Dellicker led the three in fundraising, raising $447,000 as of April 3, according to Federal Election Commission filings, while Mackenzie raised $272,000 and Montero raised $214,000.

Mackenzie has had the most outside help. Americans for Prosperity Action Inc. spent $543,000 on digital ads, mailers and canvassers with door hangers, while GOPAC Election Fund, which supports state lawmakers, spent $20,000. A group called the Integrity Leadership Fund spent $116,000 to oppose him, mostly for digital ads. 

Special Operations for America spent $30,000 to support Dellicker.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face a well-funded Wild in November. She had $2.7 million on hand as of April 3. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Tilt Democratic. 

10th District: Six Democrats are running to challenge Rep. Scott Perry, a former Freedom Caucus chairman. 

Mike O’Brien, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, and former broadcast journalist Janelle Stelson lead the money race among the primary candidates. O’Brien raised $735,000 and had $165,000 on hand as of April 3, while Stelson raised $577,000 and had $192,000 on hand. 

O’Brien is backed by military groups such as VoteVets and New Politics, while Stelson is endorsed by EMILY’s List and the New Dems Action Fund. 

Shamaine Daniels, who lost to Perry two years ago, is running again. The other Democrats are Carlisle School Board member Rick Coplen; Blake Lynch, a former radio executive; and businessman John Broadhurst.

Inside Elections rates the race as Lean Republican. 

Incumbents facing challengers

1st District: GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, faces a primary challenge from anti-abortion activist Mark Houck.

Fitzpatrick has cut a reputation as a moderate Republican representing a district that President Joe Biden would have won by 5 points in 2020, according to Inside Elections. Since he was first elected in 2016, he’s dispatched primary challengers with roughly two-thirds of the vote. 

Houck, who argues Fitzpatrick isn’t conservative enough, was indicted in 2022 and later acquitted on charges of assaulting a reproductive health care clinic escort. He later sued the Department of Justice over his arrest, according to reports. 

Fitzpatrick has not only the incumbency advantage but also a financial one. He raised $4.2 million and had $3.7 million on hand as of April 3. Houck raised $156,000 and had $11,000 on hand, FEC filings show. 

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC allied with House GOP leadership, spent $75,000 to support Fitzpatrick, while Defending Main Street Super PAC spent $54,000 and the National Association of Realtors PAC spent $14,000 supporting him. Defending America PAC Inc. also spent $268,000 against Houck.

A group called True Patriots PA spent $51,000 opposing Fitzpatrick. The group has ties to California Democrats, according to a Politico report

The winner of the primary will face Ashley Ehasz, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Ehasz lost to Fitzpatrick by 10 percentage points in 2022. 

Inside Elections rates the race as Likely Republican. 

3rd District: Rep. Dwight Evans faces a primary challenge from former Philadelphia Register of Wills Tracey Gordon. But Gordon didn’t report raising any money to the FEC as of April 3, while Evans had raised $743,000 and had $225,000 on hand. 

12th District: Freshman Rep. Summer Lee faces a primary challenge from Bhavini Patel, an Edgewood councilwoman. The race has drawn attention for highlighting the Democratic Party’s divisions over Israel. Patel has criticized Lee for her position on the war in Gaza and for a lack of support for Israel.

Lee has campaigned on bringing federal dollars back to the district and has focused on issues like climate change. Since joining the House, she’s aligned herself with the so-called “Squad” of progressive lawmakers and had a campaign rally set for Sunday with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. 

Lee raised $2.4 million and had $1.2 million on hand as of April 3, while Patel raised $600,000 and had $154,000 on hand, FEC filings show. 

Outside groups also stepped in to support Patel. A Florida based pro-Muslim group, Emgage Action, spent $100,000 supporting Lee, while Justice Democrats PAC, National Nurses United for Patient Protection, PA United Federal Action Committee and the Working Families Party National PAC spent a combined $554,000 backing her. 

Patel also had outside help. The Moderate PAC, which has gotten $800,000 from Pennsylvania billionaire and TikTok investor Jeffrey Yass, spent $612,000 supporting her campaign. Lee has criticized that support, noting that Yass is a major donor to Republicans. 

Tuesday’s winner will face James Hayes, who is uncontested in the Republican primary, in November. The race in November is rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections.

Races already set 

8th District: Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright will face Republican Rob Bresnahan in this battleground district that Donald Trump would have won by 3 points in 2020. 

Inside Elections rates the race as Tilt Democratic. 

17th District: Freshman Rep. Chris DeLuzio will face state Rep. Rob Mercuri in November. Mercuri is unopposed in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

Inside Elections rates the race as Lean Democratic. 

Senate: Republican Dave McCormick spent $14 million in a primary two years ago, only to lose to celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. This cycle, McCormick was able to consolidate Republican support and is uncontested in the primary. He’ll face Sen. Bob Casey in November.

Although that showdown is months away, outside groups have already spent $2.3 million supporting McCormick and opposing Casey.

Inside Elections rates the race as Tilt Democratic.

The target of spending by Defending America PAC Inc. is corrected in this report.

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