In Pennsylvania, 7 House races to watch

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Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat fighting for his political life in a time of voter discontent, talked jobs, jobs, and jobs as he knocked on doors on a recent evening on Nectar Lane in Falls Township.

At the Brosovich home, he talked about the grants he won to help transform the old U.S. Steel works into a manufacturing complex for wind turbines and solar panels.

At the Kubis house on Nickel Hill Lane, Murphy leaned over the fence as he talked, barbecue smoke making him hungry.

“Republicans are shipping jobs overseas and then bitching because the jobs are gone,” he said of free-trade treaties and tax policies. “We’ve got to start making things in this country again.”

Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, the congressman Murphy beat in 2006, held a 48 percent to 41 percent lead in their midterm rematch in a recent survey by the respected pollster Neil Newhouse.

Theirs is one of seven competitive congressional races – four of them in the Philadelphia suburbs – in Pennsylvania, a traditional swing state that had been trending Democratic in the last several election cycles.

As in other parts of the country, many voters in the Bucks County-centered Eighth District have soured on President Obama and are anxious about the economy. Fitzpatrick has been pounding Murphy for his mostly party-line voting record for the stimulus, health-care, and global-warming legislation.

A veteran of the Iraq war with a rising national profile, Murphy would probably not face a serious threat in ordinary times. He led the House effort to repeal the ban on gays openly serving in the military, was his party’s spokesman on withdrawal from Iraq, and won a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

At the end of June, when the most recent campaign-finance reports were filed, Murphy had $1.8 million, three times more than Fitzpatrick. But Philadelphia television is expensive, and the National Republican Campaign Committee has not weighed in yet with ad money.

Full story: In Pa., 7 House races to watch | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/06/2010