An obscure race for county commissioner underway here in a suburb outside of Philadelphia could tell us a lot about who will win the presidential election in 2024.
Bucks County is one of the swingiest counties in one of the swingiest states in America.
President Joe Biden won it in 2020. So did Sen. John Fetterman and Gov. Josh Shapiro two years later. But it’s represented by a Republican in Congress, perennial battlegrounder Brian Fitzpatrick, and conservatives staged a takeover of the county’s largest school board in 2021, banning what it calls “sexualized content” in the curriculum.
This year it is home to a local race that has the hallmarks of a race for national office: Candidates sparring over book bans in schools, crime and public safety, and the security of democracy in the next presidential election.
“As Pennsylvania goes, so goes the presidential race in 2024. And as Bucks County goes, Pennsylvania will go. Everyone should care deeply about this,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, the chair of the Bucks County Democratic Party.
Democrats won control of the three-member county board of commissioners in 2019, capturing it for the first time since 1983. But Fitzpatrick once again won reelection in 2020 — even as Biden carried his district — and in 2021 Republicans roared back and swept a slate of row offices here.
Now, Republicans are looking to recapture control of the county board this year.
A loss for either party would be a significant warning sign ahead of 2024. For Democrats, the inability to hold on to recently-flipped offices in a county they’ve reliably but narrowly carried on the presidential level could be a sign of waning enthusiasm. And for Republicans, a failure to recapture a county commission that they dominated for decades could mean a key battleground county is continuing to slip through their grasp. [Continue reading…]