State Rep. Brendan Boyle is really looking forward to his new gig as chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
“I really love and enjoy campaigns,” he said.
Boyle (D-170th dist.) succeeds Rep. Mike Gerber, of Montgomery County. Republicans swept to power in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last year, winning 13 seats to take a commanding 112–91 advantage.
Boyle lost two races to Republican Rep. George Kenney in 2004 and ’06 before capturing the seat in ’08 when Kenney retired. He was re-elected last year.
In 2010, he also helped his younger brother, Kevin, oust former Speaker John Perzel in the 172nd district.
The lawmaker teaches campaign management to graduate students at Drexel University’s Center for Public Policy.
Looking ahead to his new assignment, Boyle is excited but acknowledges he’ll be making a big time commitment.
As he tries to recruit candidates to challenge Republican incumbents, Boyle expects to be able to offer good counsel, based on his two runs against Kenney.
One challenge will be asking candidates to run in districts where the boundaries have not been finalized. The GOP-controlled legislature is expected to settle on new maps by late fall. In recent years, dozens of legislators have run unopposed. Boyle is vowing to make more Republicans work to hold their seats.
“One of my major goals is to have as many candidates as possible, ideally in every district,” he said.
Locally, Boyle is eyeing seats held by Republican Reps. John Taylor and Dennis O’Brien. Taylor’s new district might move north to take in some of the 55th Ward divisions in Mayfair formerly represented by Perzel.
“It will still be a majority Democratic seat,” Boyle said.
O’Brien is running for an at-large City Council seat. If he is elected in November, he’ll probably resign from the House in early January, setting up a special election, along with the regularly scheduled election. The district might move south to include 64th Ward divisions once represented by Perzel.
“Any way you draw it, it won’t change the fact that it is a Democratic-leaning district,” Boyle said, “but it won’t be a slam dunk.”
A possible Republican candidate for O’Brien’s 169th district seat is Dave Kralle, an O’Brien aide.
Another possible contender is Tim Gerard, an aide to City Councilman Brian O’Neill.
On the Democratic side, a likely candidate is Ed Neilson, director of business development for a Center City law firm. He’s a former official with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and formerly served in the administration of ex-Gov. Ed Rendell.
Democrats have courted John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. McNesby did quash one rumor. He will not challenge state Sen. Mike Stack.
Another possible candidate is Shawn Dillon, a longtime employee of the state auditor general’s office and Democratic leader of Ward 66-A. ••