It’s probably been a while since you’ve heard the name Joe Hoeffel. The former congressman has been out of politics for nearly a decade.
“My wife said to me the other day, ‘Honey, you’ve got to stop yelling at the television at Donald Trump. You need to run for office again,’ ” Hoeffel said.
So with the newly redrawn lines favoring Democrats in his Montgomery County congressional district, Hoeffel, who was born and raised in Abington, says it’s time for him to reenter the political arena. He announced Saturday that he is running for the new 4th District seat.
“I’ve had a chance to step back from the day-to-day of government and I think I have a different and better perspective than I did before,” said Hoeffel. “Frankly, I think I’d be a better congressman if I’m lucky enough to be reelected.”
Hoeffel has a long political pedigree. He was a state representative, then served in Congress from 1999 to 2004 before losing the U.S. Senate race to then-Senator Arlen Specter. He also had a stint as a Montgomery County Commissioner before finishing last in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2010.
Since then, Hoeffel has taught at Temple University and written two books on politics. The latest, called “Fighting for the Progressive Center in the Age of Trump,” is a plea for politics to move back from the fringe. Asked about specific policy proposals, Hoeffel said he’d work to pass legislation making permanent the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers protections to immigrants in the U.S. illegally who came to the country as children.
Hoeffel enters a primary race against three other Democrats: gun control advocate Shira Goodman, as well as State Reps. Madeleine Dean and Mary Jo Daley.
According to Hoeffel, an internal poll shows him leading his opponents. Franklin and Marshall College political analyst Terry Madonna says Hoeffel is a strong candidate, but not a shoe-in.
“A lot of voters including Democrats are looking for change and perhaps they’ll want a fresh face,” Madonna said. “But I don’t think there’s any doubt that the former congressman Joe Hoeffel is going to be very formidable in his candidacy.”
Whichever Democrat wins the primary is likely to go on to victory in November, Madonna said, and that Democrats are likely to pick up at least three congressional seats in Pennsylvania in the midterm elections.
“Those three seats are basically in the Philadelphia suburbs,” Madonna said. “There’s a chance, and it’s more than probably 50-50 that they could pick up two additional seats outside of the Philadelphia suburbs — one up in the Lehigh Valley, one out in Western Pennsylvania, perhaps one in South Central Pennsylvania.”
That would swing the state from 13 Republicans and five Democrats to just seven Republicans and 11 Democrats in Congress.