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Drawing from her various experiences as a canvasser throughout greater Philadelphia, Penn Democrats President and College junior Emma Ellman-Golan explained that “voters have the same concerns everywhere,” particularly regarding the state of the economy.

With only eight days remaining until the 2010 midterm elections, members of Penn Dems dedicated their time on Saturday to another close election in the Philadelphia area — Pennsylvania’s eighth congressional district.

Recognizing the unfavorable political atmosphere for Democrats, Republicans have recruited a familiar face to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy this election cycle — the man he defeated in the 2006 election, Mike Fitzpatrick. Acknowledging Fitzpatrick as a top-tier House challenger, the National Republican Congressional Committee has added his name to the “Young Guns” program.

Comparing the records of the two competitors in the race, Ellman-Golan indicated that voters in the district know the candidates’ records and will ultimately choose Murphy.

“You heard it here first: I think Patrick Murphy will win by 1,000 votes,” said Penn Dems Deputy Political Director and Wharton sophomore Troy Daly, alluding to the congressman’s razor-thin victory four years ago. That year, Murphy beat Fitzpatrick 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent — a difference of just over 1,500 votes.

“It’s tough being an incumbent in this kind of climate,” Ellman-Golan explained, “but ultimately I think [Murphy’s] record will prevail.”

Noting Murphy’s support for major aspects of President Barack Obama’s agenda — including the health care bill and stimulus package — Daly emphasized the importance of reciprocating that support. “It’s important that we stand up for the people who stood up for us,” he said.

The Penn College Republicans, while not canvassing in the district, have made phone calls to the area on behalf of Fitzpatrick, according to College Republicans President and Engineering junior Peter Terpeluk. Previously, a College Republicans canvassing event in the suburbs was replaced by a phone bank due to a lack of interest in canvassing.

Arguing that voters should place the former congressman back into office, College Republicans Treasurer Charles Gray, a former Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, explained that Fitzpatrick has been a firm advocate for “small government, efficient government and growth.”

While Penn Dems has not played as large of a role in the eighth district this election cycle as it has in the past, Ellman-Golan did note that the Columbia University Democrats were investing time canvassing in the district. This, she added, allowed Penn’s group to “keep [its] efforts focused on West Philadelphia.”

Intending to retain the seat in 2008, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Murphy to its “Frontline” list, a program that seeks to protect incumbents in vulnerable districts by expanding fundraising and outreach operations for candidates. Murphy won re-election that year, garnering 57 percent of the vote. He is not, however, among the 40 Democrats taking part in the program this year.

While public polling in the race has been relatively scant, two polls released two weeks ago from The Hill and Monmouth University both highlighted the competitive nature of the race, with Murphy leading his opponent 46 to 43 percent in the first poll and Fitzpatrick ahead 51 to 46 percent in the other.

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