PA-13: An Exclusive Interview With Brendan Boyle
State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) took some time this morning to sit down with PoliticsPA and discuss why the voters of Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District should send him to Congress, and what he would do when he got there.
But, back to Representative Boyle.
Why do you want to run for Congress?
“I see it actually as an extension I made to leave the private sector and get involved in public service,” Boyle responded to the soft-opener we asked each of the candidates. “I decided to run out a mixture of idealism and frustration.”
“The idealism is believing that through politics you make a difference in people’s lives, and I was frustrated with the political climate in Philly: a stale climate that doesn’t welcome change.”
Boyle was elected to the General Assembly in 2008 to represent the 170th legislative district in north Philadelphia. He is the first Democrat to represent that seat.
The competition & the race
Boyle didn’t dish on his competitors, but sees himself having distinct advantages that will help him win the primary.
“There’s no question that we agree on far more than what we disagree,” Boyle said magnanimously. “There’s a difference in term of background and biography, all three of my opponents are millionaires or married to one and in a time where income equality is the biggest issue to send someone to Congress who is a part of the wealthiest one percent sends the wrong message.”
His district now fits within the 13th Congressional, and believes that will help him with name recognition, despite that fact that one of his opponents, Marjorie Margolies, represented the very same seat in the early 90s.
“I think that fortunately I’m very popular in my district, and I’ve benefitted greatly that my brother is popular in his,” Boyle said. His brother, Kevin, was elected to represent a neighboring district in 2010 and the two are the only concurrently serving brothers in the General Assembly.
“We took Republican seats and made them Democratic, built favorability and name ID,” Boyle explained. “We start off there but also in Montco, we have really great room to grow. When I talk about the way working families are getting the short end of the stick, that resonates as much as in Lansdale as it does in Philly.”
A brief history of Brendan Boyle
In a race against a wide field of wealthy opponents, Boyle certainly has a unique story.
He’s the son of a janitor and an immigrant, the first of his family to go to college (and not just any college, he’s a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Harvard).
“For me and my family, I know how hard it was to get to college how hard it was to pay for it,” he said, mentioning the $60,000 he still owes in student loans.
After graduation, Boyle worked in private consulting before he made the jump into public service.
He named Barbara Jordan and Thaddeus Stevens as his congressional role models.
“Being from Pennsylvania, I have to say Thaddeus Stevens, even though he was a Republican, I admire his commitment to civil rights.”
For those of you who aren’t history-buff, Ivy-League grads, Stevens represented Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District from 1859-1868 and was an outspoken advocate for the abolition of slavery while he was Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a committee that Boyle himself said he would like to serve.
On the issues
Boyle made no mistake that his biggest issue would be job creation and retention.
“In terms of [focusing on] jobs vs deficit, there’s absolutely no question that unemployment and underemployment are more important than the deficit,” Boyle stated. “The deficit was cut by 50% over the last 5 years, if you look at our real underemployment, they are historicially high.”
“So instead of focusing on the deficit, the focus should be on unemployment and underemployment and getting people back to work. The average family salary is actually lower than it was 10 years ago and that’s bigger than some abstract argument about the deficit.”
On social issues, Boyle has been hit for pro-life votes in the House, including one that resulted in the closing of many clinics that provide abortion services across the state.
“I support Roe v Wade and it would be a tragically criminal to interfere with the choices between a woman and her doctor,” Boyle explained. “In terms of the Gosnell vote, I joined a majority of Democrats in the state legislature [in voting for it.]”
He also mentioned that he had been the number one target of pro-life groups in SEPA, and is surprised that he’s now being attacked from the opposite side of the argument.
The Affordable Care Act
“The ACA was such a complex piece of legislation, you have to break it down into its parts,” Boyle said. “We talk about the ban on denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, making insurance affordable, younger people can stay on their parents insurance through the age of 25, especially given the underemployment of young people. These are all positive things.”
“I think it’s a mistake that theres no public option, I don’t know why our side of the aisle gave up and didn’t get a single Republican vote anyway,” Boyle explained, looking at ways he would add to the Affordable Care Act. “I think the ACA was an opportunity to insert the bulk purchasing of drugs in the Medicare program and would save millions year after year. Two areas of opportunity for improvement.”
The DCCC has declared that all of their candidates will run on the merits of the ACA, and nationwide, it will be an issue for congressional candidates.
Congressman Brendan Boyle?
“Even here, I have the reputation of working in a bipartisan way, as opposed to some who just seem to want to go on a talk show and say crazy things, I think its more important to do the hard work,” Boyle said.
“I think we’re at a historic point in the nations history, under investment in infrastructure has been going on for 60 years,” Boyle said, speaking about the work he’d like to do in Congress. “We’ve fallen behind Europe and Asia on everything from roads to bridges, and even our traditional water, sewer, electric grid. [I’d love to have] the opportunity to serve on Transportation or Ways and Means.”
“Also if I had my choice and could serve on environment committee, it’s kind of related to this. The revolution that’s going on now thats going on in the energy sector has a lot of impacts but we need to make sure that we are taking care of the resources that we have. I’ve been very active on environmental issues.”