Now that he has announced that he is running for Governor of Pennsylvania, it seems like a good time to reintroduce Joe Hoeffel to the progressive community. For those of us who live in southeastern Pennsylvania, Joe Hoeffel is very well known as a good solid progressive who is willing to take on the fights that need fighting. But for everyone else out there, this seems like a good time to tell you a little bit about Pennsylvania's next Governor: Joe Hoeffel.
Full disclosure here. I have been a fan of Joe Hoeffel for quite some time and I make absolutely no apology for that. He also factors into one of my favorite memories of my fiancee in that we spent a part of our day trip out to Pennsylvania Dutch Country putting together a gift basket to thank him for coming to speak at an event I put together for the Temple Law Democrats. He was so thankful and appreciative, and I only hope that he enjoyed the peanut butter schmeer as much as he hoped to.
Joe Hoeffel started out his political career in the Pennsylvania legislature, serving from 1977 through 1985. In 1984 he made a run for the Congress from the 13th District, but was defeated by incumbent Lawrence Coughlin, a result that was repeated in 1986. After a brief return to his career as an attorney (a fellow Temple grad), Hoeffel returned to politics with a successful run for the Montgomery County Commission in 1991 where he surprised the establishment by supporting Mario Mele over the more powerful and senior Jon D. Fox to become chair of the commission.
In 1996, Hoeffel went after Fox again, who was now a freshman in Congress, by running for the 13th District Congressional seat for a third time. Unfortunately, Fox hung on by 84 votes. However, the fourth time was the charm as Hoeffel ran again for the 13th District and won by more than 5,000 votes.
to become the first Democrat to represent the district in almost a century Update:As InsultComicDog points out, I got typing a little fast and put up a slightly incorrect fact. Joe Hoeffel was the first Democrat to be successfully re-elected to the seat.
While in Congress, Hoeffel distinguished himself as a reliable progressive. He was a leader on environmental issues, including urging the EPA to hold hearings on mercury emissions. He was also a strong voice for human rights, including being one of three Congressmen, along with Charlie Rangel and Bobby Rush, to be arrested for protesting human rights violations in front of the Sudanese embassy in 2004.
That same year he ran against, and lost to, Senator Arlen Specter for the U.S. Senate. I think it's safe to say that we all think we'd be in better shape if Hoeffel had won that race. After that loss, he briefly considered a run for Lieutenant Governor, but then returned to the Montgomery County Commission, where he once again struck a deal to put an unexpected chair in charge of the Commission, supporting Jim Matthews (yes, Chris' brother) over Bruce Castor.
So now that you know more about him, what about his chances for this race? Turns out he'll be starting out with a pretty strong base of support. According to a recent straw poll run by Keystone Progress, Hoeffel is the leading choice of Pennsylvania progressives. In addition, a recently commissioned a poll that shows Hoeffel leading all Democratic candidates in the upcoming primary. And perhaps most importantly, as shown by his previous experience, Joe Hoeffel is the kind of candidate who refuses to give up no matter what.
In short, Joe Hoeffel is just the sort of candidate that we should be supporting. He's tough, he's progressive, and he's willing to put himself on the line for what's right. This would be the point where I would put up a link to his Act Blue page, but he only announced a couple of days ago and it hasn't been put up yet. But when it's up, rest assured I'll be putting together another diary urging everyone to give what they can to bring good solid progressive leadership to the Keystone State.