by James Boyle
Published on January 6, 2018 in the Bucks County Courier Times
Steve Bacher, of Lower Makefield, announced Saturday morning in Newtown Borough his campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District election.
A Lower Makefield Democrat is moving from the picket line to the ballot, seeking his party’s nomination in the 2018 congressional primary.
After spending the last year protesting President Donald Trump’s agenda, Steve Bacher formally launched his campaign for the 1st Congressional District seat on Saturday morning.
“I’ve given my life to public service,” Bacher said during his kickoff speech. “I believe this is the year the pro-democracy, Democratic activist resistance will take back the House and Senate and save our nation from those who don’t care about our shared values and will loot and destroy our nation until they are stopped.”
Bacher made his remarks Saturday morning before more than 75 supporters who squeezed into a banquet room at the Temperance House in Newtown Borough. The crowd was filled with fellow activists who spent numerous Fridays camped outside Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s office in Middletown to protest the incumbent’s record and the Republican-controlled Congress.
His speech Saturday morning touched familiar progressive button issues, calling for full funding of Planned Parenthood, free public college and vocational schooling, Medicare for all and sensible gun safety measures. Before the speech, Newtown Borough resident and Bernie Sanders supporter Eric Miller said that the country is ready for more progressive ideas, and he is looking for candidates who will continue to push ideas that Sanders brought into the 2016 presidential campaign.
“In the 2017 primary, Bernie Sanders won more of the youth vote than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined,” Miller said. “What that says to me as an optimist, is that progressive ideas won the future. Issues like Medicare for all and campaign finance reform are not gray areas anymore. There’s a firm stake in the ground that people are standing by.”
Bacher is a veteran of grassroots campaigns, working for the past 10 years in Bucks County to raise awareness on environmental issues such as fracking and protecting the Delaware River. He co-founded the Bucks Environmental Action coalition and the Bucks County chapter of 350.org, a national environmental advocacy group. He started volunteering with the Newtown Democratic Club in 2008 to campaign for then-candidate Barack Obama and previously worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration. Most recently, he served as director of digital marketing for Bucks County Community College for seven years and now consults on grant writing and web design.
Speaking on the phone two days before his campaign launch, Bacher said he attended several local meetings of activist organizations, such as the Indivisible chapters in Bucks County, and tried to convince strong women candidates to jump into the race, but for various reasons they declined. At their urging, he decided to start his own campaign and challenge someone he thinks has betrayed voters.
″(Fitzpatrick) has shown a lot of hypocrisy in his first year,” Bacher said. “We must spread the word about his selling out the working people with his votes. He voted to give us tiny little tax breaks and give enormous windfalls to the wealthiest of the wealthy. He claims to be for good government and transparency and votes against requiring Trump to reveal the conflicts of interest in his tax return.”
In an interview Friday afternoon, Fitzpatrick said that his vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act came after looking at the current tax code and the proposed legislation and deciding the bill would be a vast improvement over an antiquated system. He has not officially launched his re-election campaign, but Fitzpatrick will face primary challenges of his own if and when it starts, from Dean Malik and Valerie Mihalek. Fitzpatrick said Friday that the crowded campaign field is a good sign of an engaged democracy.
“I’m a big believer in the more candidates, the better,” said Fitzpatrick. “People want to participate in government and the process, that’s a great thing. I wish more people participated.”
Before he can face off against Fitzpatrick or one of his two Republican primary challengers, Bacher has to break away from the Democratic field in the May 15 primary election. Chalfont native and Navy veteran Rachel Reddick was the first to enter the race when she announced her candidacy in October. It’s a well-known rumor among Democratic party circles that Scott Wallace, grandson of FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace and self-described “patriotic millionaire,” will join the fray by the end of the month.
Both have spent significant time outside the district. Reddick was stationed for two years in Hawaii for the Navy’s Judge Advocate General before moving to Washington, D.C., until her recent relocation to Bedminster. Wallace directed the Wallace Global Fund from all parts of the world, including South Africa and D.C., for more than 14 years, but has maintained a home in Buckingham.
Bacher said his work in the Bucks County community over the past 10 years advocating for environmental and social justice causes will resonate more with voters than his Democratic opponents’ resumes.
“I’ve been a proud progressive Democrat my whole life,” Bacher said. “I am the only candidate who has been here and engaged on these issues not only in the past year, but in the last 10 years.”