Joyce challenged by retired FBI agent for 13th Congressional District

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John Joyce
Party: Republican
Age: 63
Hometown: Altoona
Occupation: Physician; Congressman
Education: Penn State University; medical degree from Temple University
Family: Wife, three children
Todd Rowley
Party: Democrat
Age: 56
Hometown: Donegal Township
Occupation: Retired state trooper and FBI special agent; park ranger
Education: Bachelor’s of Arts in political science from Washington College
Family: Married, no children

Voters in the massive 13th Congressional District — stretching from Westmoreland County to Gettysburg — will chose between a freshman incumbent who embraces the agenda of President Trump and a Democratic challenger who wants to serve as an opposition to power.

The race is between state Rep. John Joyce, a Republican from Altoona, and Democrat Todd Rowley, a retired FBI special agent from Donegal Township.

“I’m running against Donald Trump,” Rowley said. “John Joyce has the highest voting ratio with Trump in Pennsylvania. He has fully backed his wagon to Donald Trump.”

That is just fine with Joyce.

“President Trump represents and supports the freedoms we embrace,” Joyce said.

The 13th District, about 150 miles across, includes parts or all of 10 counties: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset and Westmoreland. Locally, that includes the eastern communities of Bolivar, Derry, Fairfield, Ligonier, New Alexandria, New Florence and parts of Unity.

The district, newly formed in 2018, is overwhelmingly red. Nearly 60% of registered voters are Republicans, with Democrats accounting for only 28%. District voters supported Trump by about 42 percentage points in 2016.

Joyce, a dermatologist and internist by trade, is an anti-abortion, anti-gun-control Republican who is an outspoken supporter of the president’s immigration policies. He wants to see health care enhancements to enable more doctors to work in the region and abolish the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m quite concerned the Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable. Patients often end up without an ability to keep their doctors. I think we need to lower prescription drug costs and cover individuals with preexisting conditions,” Joyce said.

He said he will only vote to terminate the law if companion legislation is in place to retain protections for those with preexisting medical conditions.

Joyce said he’s similarly focused on passing legislation to upgrade high-speed internet capability, something he said is sorely needed in the mostly rural district.

Rowley, 56, returned home to his family farm in Westmoreland County after a 17-year career in the FBI. He is a ranger at Linn Run State Park. This is his first run for public office. He said his underdog campaign is focused on the coronavirus and specifically what he said is Joyce’s inaction in dealing with the pandemic.

“John Joyce was silent. He’s a medical physician, and for him to be silent for these eight to nine months, it’s a shame. It’s a clear squandering of leadership,” Rowley said.

Rowley favors a universal health care model and backs expanding the Affordable Care Act. He said he is a pro-choice candidate and supports improved background checks for gun owners. He said he also would consider bans on certain semi-automatic weapons.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Categories:
Election | Local | Westmoreland

John Joyce
Party: Republican
Age: 63
Hometown: Altoona
Occupation: Physician; Congressman
Education: Penn State University; medical degree from Temple University
Family: Wife, three children
Todd Rowley
Party: Democrat
Age: 56
Hometown: Donegal Township
Occupation: Retired state trooper and FBI special agent; park ranger
Education: Bachelor’s of Arts in political science from Washington College
Family: Married, no children

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