Area congressional delegation remains largely unchanged

Pat Meehan (left) with Tom McGarrigle at the Springfield Country Club in Delaware County, Tuesday, November 4, 2014. The Delaware County Republican easily beat Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

Pennsylvania Republicans won the two most hotly contested House races in the Philadelphia area Tuesday, holding onto seats in Bucks and Chester Counties that Democrats had hoped to take away.

U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) defeated Democrat Kevin Strouse in a closely divided district based in Bucks County, and Republican Ryan Costello beat Democrat Manan Trivedi in a Chester County-based race.

Costello, a Chester County commissioner, will replace Republican Jim Gerlach, who did not seek reelection.

At a raucous victory party in Doylestown, Fitzpatrick addressed a crowd of more than 100.

"I've never seen results like we've seen tonight," he said. "It's really, really humbling."

He thanked his family, staff and supporters, and did not mention Strouse.

"I still have a lot to add," Fitzpatrick, who has said this would be his last term, told the crowd.

The two GOP wins came as Republicans nationally looked set to add seats in the House and took control of the Senate.

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.) said the results sent a message, particularly to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

"Let's let Harry Reid understand a little bit what it means to be in the minority," Meehan said after winning reelection. "Now we get a chance, hopefully with a Republican Senate, to move forward."

The Delaware County Republican easily beat Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis, who teaches political science at La Salle University.

But as the balance of power in Washington looked to shift, the partisan divide locally remained unchanged.

Every Philadelphia-area incumbent who ran won.

The two Democrats and two Republicans from the region who retired were each replaced by members of the same party in Pennsylvania and New Jersey races.

One new face in Congress will be State Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Philadelphia Democrat, who beat Republican Dee Adcock in a district based in Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Boyle will replace U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), who ran for governor and lost in her party's primary.

Schwartz's departure and the failure of two longshot women candidates Tuesday means that Pennsylvania's 18 members of Congress will all be male come January.

New Jersey's delegation will include one woman, Bonnie Watson-Coleman, who won a Central New Jersey district.

Philadelphia Democratic U.S. Reps. Robert Brady and Chaka Fattah won, Brady for his 10th term and Fattah for an 11th. Brady beat Megan Rath while Fattah defeated Armond James.

Adding to the status quo results: U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker (D., N.J.) easily won reelection.

In Bucks, Barbara Gable, 68, of Bensalem, said she voted for Fitzpatrick because of his roots in the county.

"He cares about his constituents," she said.

Fitzpatrick had hammered Strouse for only moving to the district last year, after growing up in Delaware County and then serving in the Army and CIA.

Barbara Reilly, 78, another Bensalem Republican, called Fitzpatrick honest, hardworking, and visible in the district - a view that countered one of Strouse's main lines of attack.

"I've never seen a congressman work as hard as him," Reilly said. "This man is tireless."

One Republican from Holland, Bucks County, Kaylie Yatskowitz, 30, said she supported Strouse despite her registration.

"It's time for a change," she said, praising Strouse's stance on women's rights and social issues.

Republicans held all of the competitive congressional seats in the region, but with strong incumbents and a national GOP surge this year, they were never seriously threatened.

National Democrats promoted Strouse and Trivedi early, but canceled their ad buys a month before Election Day.

Change came in the national picture.


jtamari@phillynews.com

@JonathanTamari

Inquirer staff writer Laura McCrystal contributed to this article.