Americans for Prosperity staffer may challenge Rep. Fitzpatrick in primary

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) might have a primary on his hands.

Jennifer Stefano, the Pennsylvania director of policy for labor and energy for the fiscally conservative, deep-pocketed Americans for Prosperity, told The Hill that she is angry at the centrist Republican for a pro-labor vote and is seriously considering running against him.

"If you had asked me two weeks ago if I were running for Congress, I would have dismissed it immediately. That is, until Mike Fitzpatrick voted against reining in the out-of-control National Labor Relations Board," Stefano told The Hill via email Sunday.

A Stefano challenge could force Fitzpatrick to the right and make him spend money he could use in the general election to hold her off. Should she win, her views would be a tougher sell in a district that gave President Obama 54 percent of its vote and is likely to become only a bit more Republican from the state GOP's redistricting. This would be one of the first Tea Party challenges to a House Republican this election cycle.

The congressman is in his first term back — he held the suburban Philadelphia swing district in 2004, lost it in 2006 and won it again last fall by a seven-point margin. He is known as a centrist who supports some pro-labor and environmental policies, which would help him hold onto the district for the GOP.

Fitzpatrick voted against a Republican-backed bill to bar the National Labor Relations Board from "ordering any employer to close, relocate or transfer employment under any circumstance," including moving from one state to another to avoid labor laws.

Stefano said she will make her final decision after seeing how Fitzpatrick votes on the debt-reduction plan that will come out later this fall from the supercommittee, and said, "There are many of us who believe the fate of the nation rests in the hands of this Congress."

Fitzpatrick's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated at 1:35 p.m. to include Stefano's current title.

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