14th U.S. House: Doyle has earned another term in Congress

Thursday, 14 October 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a political season full of tumult and angst for Democratic incumbents, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle is sitting pretty.

The lawmaker from Forest Hills is seeking his ninth term representing the 14th Congressional District, which includes Pittsburgh and parts of western, southern and eastern Allegheny County — an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency of 50 communities.

Unlike many pols who have been in office a long time, there are no hints that Mr. Doyle, 57, is approaching his expiration date. Still, even an effective congressman should expect a challenge on Election Day, and in a year when it seems anything can happen in politics, Mr. Doyle’s two opponents are a caution against complacency.

Melissa Haluszczak, the Republican nominee, is running to become “a new voice in Washington,” a theme that may resonate more outside her district than inside. The paralegal from Coraopolis has never held elected office and she says she isn’t beholden to her party, describing herself as a “small R” Republican.

While downplaying her GOP allegiance, Ms. Haluszczak, 42, was a tea party organizer in 2009. She favors repeal of the federal health insurance reform and supports extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, including those to rich Americans, whom she calls the “job creators.” She doesn’t believe the science on global warming is settled and says pro-environment proposals like “cap and trade” would only raise energy prices. She advocates tough immigration legislation with no amnesty for illegals and would like to see the overturn of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

The third candidate is Ed Bortz, 62, of the North Side. Although the Green Party activist worked as an electrician for most of his life, he spends much of his time writing poems and essays. Like the Republican, he is a political newcomer. He would address the budget deficit by slashing military spending 50 percent and bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. He favors a single-payer system for health insurance and leniency on immigration. Mr. Bortz believes global warming is man-made and that fossil fuels, along with nuclear power, must be phased out.

Such opposition leaves Mr. Doyle the moderate in the race. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he helped draft legislation aimed at reducing global warming without hurting jobs. He insists that the United States must lead in the development of green energy technologies instead of leaving the field to other countries. He says that coal, gas and oil should not be shut down, but reduced over time as major sources of energy; he favors more reliance on nuclear power and renewable sources.

While an advocate of single-payer health insurance, he defends the strides made by the Obama reform, like allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ policies longer and barring pre-existing conditions from being a barrier to coverage. He acknowledged the law’s complexity, though, and said Congress must work on the issue of cost.

He agreed with Ms. Haluszczak that the United States should not spend any more time nation-building in Afghanistan and with Mr. Bortz that the Bush tax cuts should be extended for everyone except those in households with incomes of $250,000 or more. He and Mr. Bortz are comfortable with Roe v. Wade.

Mr. Doyle has used his tenure to become an effective and outspoken advocate for his district and a legislator with the kind of seniority to shape critical legislation. That makes his service a real benefit to Pittsburgh-area constituents. Mike Doyle has earned the Post-Gazette’s endorsement.