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During the Republican National Convention, I went to get a haircut because I was going to be appearing on an internet feed the next day and I was looking a little scraggly.  When the middle-aged woman who was cutting my hair realized that I was a Democratic consultant, she began telling me stories.  She was a registered Republican, she told me, because years ago her mother informed her that she needed to register as a Republican if she ever wanted anything from a politician.  I laughed and said, "Yeah, that used to be true."  She admitted that she had 'dated herself' by telling me that, and then proceeded to rip on the Republicans and their convention for the remainder of my haircut.  

It used to be very true that Republicans ruled the Philly suburbs every bit as much as the Democratic machine ruled the city. Democrats didn't really break that grip until the 2006 midterms, when we won the 7th and 8th Districts, and almost won the 6th.  We also won races for county commissioner and control of numerous town councils.  In 2008, that trend continued.  And, while we lost everything in the 2010 beat-down, the old ways have not returned.  The Philly suburbs remain so solidly pro-Obama that Romney isn't even contesting the state.  

We have two strong challengers running for newly-drawn seats in the Philly suburbs this year.  In my home district, the sixth, Dr. Manan Trivedi is taking his second shot at Rep. Jim Gerlach.  In Bucks County, Kathy Boockvar is trying to oust Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.  I want to talk a little about these two Republicans.  

If you look at Progressive Punch, you see that Mike Fitzpatrick is listed as the 2nd most moderate Republican in the House, and Gerlach is listed as the 9th most moderate.  That is in keeping with the pro-Obama nature of their districts.  But it is really deceptive.  

For example, the people of Pennsylvania's 6th and 8th districts will probably be surprised to know that both Fitzpatrick and Gerlach have received a zero score from NARAL Pro-Choice America for 2011.  That's indistinguishable from far-right members like Missouri's Todd Akin.  In fact, amazingly, both Gerlach and Fitzpatrick were actually co-sponsors of H.R. 3, a bill which, in its original form, removed the rape exception except for in cases of "forcible" rape. There's nothing moderate about that.  In addition, both voted to allow hospitals to deny women emergency abortions even when their lives are in imminent peril.  They both voted (twice) to completely defund Planned Parenthood, which would deny millions of women cancer screenings, access to contraception, and other critical medical care.  

These extreme positions are why so many people have accused the Republicans of waging a "War on Women."  And when some of the most supposedly "moderate" Republicans in the House are co-sponsoring bills that redefine rape, there is no moderation left in the modern GOP.  I think most voters in Pennsylvania's 6th and 8th Districts value what Planned Parenthood does and don't want to see it closed down for lack of federal funding.  I don't personally know anyone who thinks a woman should be denied life-saving medical care just because a hospital has moral objections to abortion.  That's just flat-out crazy.  

From now to election day, each week I will be discussing at least one crazy vote that Gerlach and Fitzpatrick have taken.  They may look like good fits for the Philly suburbs if you look at some stat sheet, but they're voting like Deep South Republicans, and it's time to vote them out of office.  

Support Manan Trivedi and Kathy Boockvar.  

[The writer is a consultant for Democracy for America].

Originally posted to on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Herding 438 and DKos Pennsylvania.

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