Pennsylvania Legislator Takes on the Clinton Machine in Fierce Primary

May 18, 2014 6:11am
HT brendan boyle jtm 140516 16x9 608 Pennsylvania Legislator Takes on the Clinton Machine in Fierce Primary

Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, in an undated handout photo from his website.

Meet the man who’s trying to beat the Clinton family at its own game.

On Tuesday, Marjorie Margolies, an in-law of the Clintons will be in a four-way brawl in a primary in the Keystone State. But the man who may best her doesn’t come from political royalty and he isn’t even independently wealthy. He’s a 37-year-old baby-faced state legislator who grew up in a rowhouse in Philadelphia.

“Marjorie puts Bill Clinton in her ads, I put my dad in my videos,” Brendan Boyle said of his father, who is a janitor for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

Boyle is up against Margolies, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and former journalist who held the same office she is seeking from 1993 to 1995. She lost her seat after casting a controversial vote in favor of Bill Clinton’s budget. She also happens to be Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law. Her son Marc Mezvinsky married Chelsea Clinton in July 2010 and they are expecting a baby this fall. His other primary opponents are state Sen. Daylin Leach and physician Val Arkoosh.

Bill Clinton, a longtime ally, held a fundraiser for Margolies, 71, and Hillary Clinton threw a fundraiser for her last week (although Margolies chose to skip it to attend a Montgomery County Democratic Party dinner and stump more in the district).

FLASHBACK: Chelsea Clinton’s In-Law Skips Her Own Fundraiser With Hillary

Boyle is the youngest candidate by 15 years in the competitive four-way race. His campaign has raised the least amount of money and he doesn’t have Margolies’ powerful connections to the Philadelphia political establishment.

“They say money always wins,” Boyle told ABC News in a recent interview before he stopped at a Philadelphia diner for a meet-and-greet. “If we win, we show that’s not true.”

A Tale Of Two Ads

The primary is not just a question of whether the Clintons have long coattails. It’s also a tale of two ads in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District.

On one side, the Margolies campaign features the former president’s April 10 fundraiser speech.

“If you send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud,” Clinton tells the crowd. “She will take initiatives, she will do things that stand up when she needs to stand up, and then cooperate when we need cooperation.”

Meanwhile, Boyle’s ad features the image of a man — the candidate’s Irish immigrant father — sweeping the platform at a Philadelphia train station.

“My dad’s a janitor for SEPTA. My wife’s a public school teacher,” Boyle says in the ad. “We’re not millionaires, like every one of my opponents.”

A longer version available online paints a picture of his working-class roots and the American dream. Boyle says when he was accepted to Notre Dame, it was the “happiest day” of his father’s life.

Boyle boasts that his campaign has reached out to every single voter door-to-door over the past year and has held 225 voter events, more than any of his three opponents combined. He has Philadelphia workers on his side, with endorsements from numerous labor unions. He takes pride in his work ethic, and says he is the “only candidate, from beginning to end, that has talked about the fact that the middle class is forgotten by Washington, D.C., at a time when income inequality is at an all-time high.”

He said he isn’t fazed by the Clinton’s involvement with the Margolies campaign, including those $1,000-a-head fundraisers with both Bill and Hillary.

“They’re in-laws and I certainly understand their involvement — the fact that both have done fundraisers certainly shows that they’ve made it a priority,” Boyle said. “Bill Clinton was a good president, but it’s not his name on the ballot. Voters need to ask who would be the best congressperson.”

Heading into Tuesday’s primary in the Democratic-leaning district, Boyle said he’s trying make do “with as little sleep as possible.”

“I was up at 5:30 shaking hands at the train station, then I did radio interviews. I’m campaigning at diners all afternoon, and attending school fundraisers tonight,” he said.

He just might win this election the old-fashioned way.

SHOWS:
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus