Hoeffel Holds Off Greenleaf In 13th District

Posted: November 08, 2000

U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel 3d became the first Democrat in recent memory to win reelection in the heavily Republican 13th Congressional District in Montgomery County, turning back a challenge yesterday from State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf.

"The people of the . . . district have spoken again - and I like it," Hoeffel told supporters about 11:40 p.m.

"Now, let me be clear. I know I have my marching orders: Pay down the debt, keep the economy strong, invest in our people. I can't wait to get back to Washington."

Hoeffel and nearly all the other incumbents in Pennsylvania's 21 congressional districts expected to retain their seats in the House.

In the days before the election, polls indicated there were probably three congressional races in the state - including the Hoeffel-Greenleaf contest - that could change party hands.

One was in the Fourth District outside Pittsburgh, where Democratic Rep. Ron Klink had resigned to run for the U.S. Senate. There, Republican State Sen. Melissa Hart defeated Democratic State Rep. Terry Van Horne.

In the 10th District, near Scranton, Rep. Donald Sherwood, 59, a Republican, appeared to be the winner in a tight race with Democrat Patrick Casey, 34, son of former Gov. Robert P. Casey and brother of Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr.

Hoeffel's district takes in most of Montgomery County, where there are nearly 100,000 more Republicans than Democrats. (Because a few largely Republican communities in the county are not in the district, the Republican edge is somewhat less.) When Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky won in 1992, she became the first Democrat in 80 years to represent the district. She lost, though, to Jon D. Fox two years later.

Hoeffel lost to Fox by 84 votes in 1996, then won by 9,000 in 1998. Yesterday, he appeared to have more than doubled that margin to nearly 20,000.

"To my friends on the Republican Committee of Montgomery County, I'm your congressman. Get used to it," Hoeffel said at the Spring Mill fire station in Conshohocken.

"We can hold our heads high," Greenleaf said in conceding. "We did the best we could."

He called the campaign a "great experience" and told supporters at the Cedar Brook County Club in Blue Bell, "I didn't pull it off for you."

Hoeffel characterized Greenleaf as a good competitor and a good man.

"He's exactly the kind of person we want in public life today," Hoeffel said. "He is exactly the kind of man we want in the state Senate."

Racking up the miles on Amtrak as he worked around his congressional schedule in Washington, Hoeffel, 50, ran an energetic campaign, while the 61-year-old Greenleaf, national analysts said, was often lackluster, at times failing to rally even the party faithful.

"You have to give voters a reason to make a change if you're the challenger," Hoeffel campaign manager Joe Grace said late last week. "I would respectfully suggest our opponent has not done that."

John Kohut, senior editor of the Rothenberg Report in Washington, agreed, saying a contest that at one time was high on the GOP list of targeted races was drained of its excitement by Greenleaf's "undynamic" style.

A social moderate and state senator for 22 years, Greenleaf had been pressured to run for the seat before. He declined in 1992, when Republican Lawrence Coughlin retired. Two years later, he declared his candidacy, then backed out quickly when he realized he would be named head of the Judiciary Committee in the Republican-controlled state Senate. In his Harrisburg career, he has authored nearly 100 laws, from divorce mediation to consumer protection to crime legislation.

The 13th District race also included Libertarian Ken Cavanaugh of Eagleville.

In the Sixth Congressional District, which includes the Pottstown area, incumbent Democrat Tim Holden of St. Clair appeared to be defeating Republican Thomas Kopel of Oley.

Republican Pat Toomey was leading Democrat Ed O'Brien in the 15th District, which crosses northwestern Montgomery County.

In Philadelphia's First District, incumbent Democrat Robert A. Brady, 55, defeated Republican Steven N. Kush, 33, a Center City store manager.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, 43, had no Republican opponent in the Second District. He won over Libertarian Kenneth V. Krawchuck, 47, of Elkins Park.

Third District incumbent Robert A. Borski, 52, defeated Republican challenger Charles F. Dougherty, 63, a consultant.

In Delaware County's Seventh District, Republican Curt Weldon, 52, won the seat he has occupied for 13 years. He was opposed by novice office-seeker Peter A. Lennon of Marple, a 38-year-old lawyer and public accountant.

Republican Joseph R. Pitts, 60, of Kennett Square, was elected for a third term from Chester County's 16th District. His Democratic opponent was Robert S. Yorczyk, 56, of Uwchlan, a catalog publisher.

In Bucks County, incumbent Republican Rep. James Greenwood, 48, of Tinicum, handily defeated Democratic challenger Ronald L. Strouse, 52, of Doylestown Township. Phillip C. Holmen was the Reform Party candidate.

Ralph Vigoda's e-mail address is rvigoda@phillynews.com

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