Brendan Boyle is quick to say that he has “never been handed anything,” and he thinks his bid for Allyson Schwartz’s soon-to-be-vacated congressional seat will be no different.
The 36-year-old is the only candidate running for the Democratic nomination who lives in Northeast Philadelphia, but that’s not the only distinction he wants voters to remember come May.
“One of the main distinctions will be at the end of the day who is the person who understands the people of this district the most and who will work like hell every single day for the people who live in this district,” Boyle said.
Boyle will face state Sen. Daylin Leach, former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies and health-care reform advocate Val Arkoosh next May in the Democratic primary. The 13th District includes parts of Northeast Philadelphia and most of Eastern Montgomery County, and Boyle noted that he was the only candidate who had constituents in both counties.
“I think my record is clearly in the mainstream of this district whether it’s in Northeast Philadelphia or Montgomery County,” Boyle said.
Boyle was born and raised in the Olney section of Philadelphia in a row home, and was the first in his family to attend college when he enrolled at the University of Notre Dame and, later, Harvard University for graduate school.
He lives in Somerton with his wife, and the two are expecting a child in January.
He described Washington, D.C. as “dysfunctional” and said that the current makeup of Congress is largely to blame.
“I think that the U.S. Congress could benefit from having more people from my background and perspective,” Boyle said. “Right now, it’s an institution dominated by multi-millionaires of both parties who really are out of touch with the people that I grew up with and the neighborhood I grew up in.”
Boyle added that it is “very clear” that his background is “quite a bit different” than the three other candidates. He also noted that his middle-class background would inspire his campaign and his policies, should he be elected.
Citing a recent statistic that showed income inequality at the highest level since 1928, before the onset of the Great Depression, he said that elected officials need to do a better job ensuring jobs for the middle-class and working poor.
“That is a statistic that should scare pretty much everybody,” Boyle said.
Boyle noted that he felt the four candidates agreed on “about 80 percent” of the issues, but that his focus was more on “meat and potatoes” issues.
“I tend to talk more about meat and potatoes issues and issues that affect the families that I represent,” Boyle said. “So I probably have more of a focus on quality-of-life issues and economic issues.”
Making higher education more affordable and narrowing the income gap would be top priorities for Boyle, if elected. Boyle ran for his current seat in 2004 and 2006 unsuccessfully against Republican incumbent state Rep. George Kenney, and won the seat in 2008 when Kenney retired.He said that he first decided to leave his lucrative job in the private sector as a consultant for an IT consulting firm when he realized there weren’t many persons with a blue-collar background in the halls of Congress.
“Even with this profession’s much-celebrated shortcomings and faults, it is a noble calling, and we need good people to serve in government who are in it for the right reasons and who are bright, hardworking and want to help people,” Boyle said.
Boyle has the backing of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and about 20 labor unions.
He said he thinks Northeast Philadelphia voters will respond well to his campaign, but that he isn’t conceding Montgomery County, and will use the same door-to-door tactics that he said won him his state representative campaigns. When asked if he would run for both the state House and the congressional seat, Boyle said he hadn’t made a final decision, however, he noted that the other candidates didn’t face a similar predicament.
“I don’t want to be held to a different standard,” Boyle said. ••