Dem challenger experiences the good, the bad — and the good again

Posted: October 12, 2012

IT'S BEEN AN UP, down and up again week for Kathy Boockvar, the Democrat challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in the area's most competitive congressional race.

First, the Bucks County lawyer scored a high-profile endorsement from former governor Ed Rendell. Days later, she learned that the national organization for Democratic House candidates was pulling $1.1 million in planned TV ads that could have boosted her chances. And then her campaign released its quarterly fundraising totals, showing a solid half-million-dollar haul.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's cancellation of the airtime it reserved in the Philadelphia market for the week starting on Oct. 23 could be a bad sign for Boockvar, considered the region's strongest challenger, and a signal that Democrats are now pessimistic about her chances.

However, local Democratic sources say the DCCC has pulled ads recently from big-market districts in other parts of the country as well, because it's too low on cash to keep up with the commitments it made earlier in the campaign.

For Republicans, the ad cancellation is an omen for Boockvar.

"Democrats have come to the realization that Kathy Boockvar is too radical and have abandoned her candidacy," Nat Sillin, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.

Following the Democrats' cancellation, the NRCC pulled $400,000 of its own reservations in Philly.

Boockvar spokesman Andrew Grubin said the campaign was never counting on aid from Washington. "The program that we need to implement, that we created to win never really depended on outside spending," said Grubin. He pointed to Boockvar's $520,000 in fundraising during the past three months - impressive for a challenger.

Still, the Fitzpatrick campaign, which had collected $1.7 million as of July but has yet to reveal the most recent quarter's earnings, will maintain a vast financial advantage in the 8th District race.

DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said the group is "confident" its area candidates can win, in part because President Obama is doing well in Pennsylvania. The group still has $1.6 million in local airtime reserved for the following week, which ends on Election Day.

Contact Walsh at 215-854-5745

or walshse@phillynews.com.

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