Republican David Torres will run against Brendan Boyle in the 2nd Congressional District.
David Torres lost his only child, 33-year-old Eddie, to opioid abuse nine months ago and said his son’s death remains painful today.
Eddie’s passing also pushed Torres into action.
“That was the last straw,” he said.
With the opioid crisis continuing and 2nd Congressional District Republicans scrambling for a candidate after their original choice abruptly dropped out of the race, Torres entered the contest with about 10 days to go before nominating petitions were due.
Ward leaders gathered enough signatures, even with some stormy weather, and Torres was on the ballot.
Torres, who lives near 5th Street and Lehigh Avenue, had been in the congressional district represented by Democrat Bob Brady. But after the state Supreme Court redesigned the boundaries in February, Torres’ home was in the district represented by Brendan Boyle.
The new 2nd Congressional District includes all of the Northeast and neighborhoods such as Bridesburg, Port Richmond, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Kensington, Juniata, Olney, Logan, Feltonville and North Philadelphia.
While Torres was unopposed in May’s Republican primary, Boyle won 65 percent of the vote against Michele Lawrence in the Democratic primary.
Torres said he has met Boyle once and has nothing against him.
“I don’t know the guy from a can of paint,” he said.
Torres, 59, spent his early years in Brooklyn and the Bronx. He moved to Philadelphia at age 12 and graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School back when it was located at 7th Street and Lehigh Avenue.
Professionally, he has overseen programs for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics and homeless people. He’s also worked as an HMO sales manager.
Today, he is retired and wants to give back.
“I love my country. I love that flag,” he said during an interview last week at Pub 36.
Torres likes the nation’s low unemployment rate of 4 percent, but is not happy when he sees areas in Philadelphia that were once home to union factory jobs now infested with drugs, crime and unkempt housing.
If elected, he would work to bring investors to the city to produce jobs in fields such as technology and solar energy.
As for the opioid crisis, he believes people about to receive medical prescriptions should be talked to about the potential to become addicted to the drugs. Services, he said, should be made more available for military veterans and homeless people addicted to drugs.
Torres thinks Americans deserve better from a Congress with an approval rating hovering around 11 percent.
“They’re busy fighting and arguing, and people are hurting,” he said.
In office, Torres would pay special attention to small businesses, which he believes are the backbone of the city, and senior citizens, who he said have paid their dues and don’t want to constantly hear what he calls the false claim that Social Security is going bankrupt.
Asked if he wants to eliminate the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he replied, “Hell no,” adding that overall safety has to be the goal at the southern border and that he’d oppose any effort by Democrats to create open borders.
While Torres thinks it’s crazy that Boston is considering allowing noncitizens to vote, he does have compassion for unaccompanied minors who arrive here from hostile lands.
“Our responsibility is to make sure those kids are OK and get them back to family members,” he said.
Similarly, he feels for Dreamers, the people brought here as young people illegally by their parents. They can stay, he said, if they haven’t committed any crimes.
“They only know America,” he said.
As for their parents, he would demand that they pay a processing fee as part of any pathway to citizenship. The money would be used for border security, Social Security, schools and health care.
“To me, it makes sense,” he said.
Torres favored the recent federal payroll tax cuts, which provide about $1,000 annually to many middle-class workers. The cuts, which also benefited corporations, led to hefty bonuses from a lot of companies to their workers. Torres dismissed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as out of touch for labeling that money as “crumbs.”
“Pelosi’s shoes probably cost a thousand dollars,” he said.
Once the U.S. is able to sustain its recent job growth, he’d favor a hike in the federal minimum wage.
Torres hopes for decency in politics, saying he was disheartened when he heard Robert DeNiro use foul language at the Tony Awards and when he hears about public harassment of Trump administration officials, with California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters urging further ridicule. He believes any restaurant that orders someone to leave because of their political leanings should be fined.
For Torres, his path to victory is to do well in the Hispanic communities and in Northeast wards that have been favorable to Republicans in the past.
Tom Matkowski, an East Torresdale resident and GOP leader of the 65th Ward, has been helping Torres with his campaign.
Matkowski acknowledges that Torres is underfunded, but describes him as a blue-collar, personable, down-to-earth guy who will listen to people. Voters will like Torres, Matkowski said, because he is not a politician.
In the Northeast, Matkowski thinks Torres will appeal to a lot of Democrats who are sick of high city taxes and what he sees as never-ending bashing of President Donald Trump.
“I think he’ll play good,” he said. ••