After primary, MontCo could be shut out of Congress

WASHINGTON – When the voting stopped Tuesday, Montgomery County was left on the outside looking in.

The third most populous county in Pennsylvania is facing the prospect of having no member of Congress from within its borders. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz – a MontCo resident – chose to run for governor, and in the Democratic primary to replace her, three county residents were left in the dust by Northeast Philadelphia’s Brendan Boyle.

MontCo still has a shot in the fall -- Boyle will face Republican Dee Adcock in November – but it would take a huge upset for Adcock to win in the heavily Democratic district.

“It’s not good for Montgomery County,” said Joe Hoeffel, a former Congressman from the county who served three terms. “It doesn’t have one member of Congress that really cares deeply and foremost about the county. … Brendan’s not going to ignore Montgomery County, not at all, but it’ s just very odd that Montgomery County is not going to have a member of Congress.”

Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties each boast at least one resident in Congress. Boyle would be the third from Philadelphia.

Hoeffel chalked up the result to two factors: Republican-led redistricting that has siphoned off portions of the county into five different Congressional districts and “weak leadership” from local Democrats when it came to replacing Schwartz.

“The party leadership will have to answer for that to some extent,” Hoeffel said in an interview Wednesday. “To allow the primary to shape up with three Montgomery County politicians and only one Philadelphian was clearly a mistake by the Montgomery County leadership.”

MontCo had three candidates in the race: former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, state Sen. Daylin Leach and physician Val Arkoosh. Boyle cleared the field in Philadelphia.

On primary day, Boyle won an overwhelming 70 percent of the vote in the city. In MontCo, the vote was more evenly divided. The best anyone did was 35 percent for Margolies. Boyle got 16 percent – last place, but within reach of his opponents. Slightly more than half of the district’s registered voters live in Philadelphia, though among Democrats Philly’s advantage is larger.

Montgomery is a smaller slice -- and therefore has less political sway -- in districts represented by Chaka Fattah, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Pat Meehan.

Despite not having a voice bred in the county, Hoeffel said Montgomery residents will be well-represented by Boyle.

“He’ll be very available and accessible to Montgomery County voters,” Hoeffel said. “People will see a lot of him, and that’s what voters want.”

Boyle has deep ties to the Olney section of Philadelphia, but pointed out that he already represents part of Montgomery County in his state legislative district and touted his voter outreach in the county, even if the base of his support came from the city.

“We ended up exceeding our (targeted) vote total number in Montgomery County,” Boyle said Wednesday. “I knocked on more doors personally and did more voter outreach events in Montgomery County than any opponents who happen to live there.”

He said his focus on the struggles of middle class workers will resonate in places such as Hatboro and Lansdale as much as in Philadelphia.

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