In PGH’s 12th Congressional District, Republican Doyle makes Election Day pitch to Dems

By: - November 8, 2022 4:46 pm

PITTSBURGH – On Election Day, Mike Doyle, the Republican running for Pa.’s 12th Congressional District, made stops throughout Pittsburgh’s Democratic strongholds.

Doyle, and his wife Kye-Won Doyle, pulled up to a Honda dealership turned polling place in Bloomfield where they greeted two campaign representatives trying to talk up prospective voters on their way to the polls. 

Representatives of Doyle’s Democratic opponent, state Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, were passing out flyers only a couple feet away.

“This is a solid D blue district,” Brian Thomas, a Lee volunteer and Bloomfield resident, told the Capital-Star. “Republicans kind of just give up on it.”

Not only was it “shocking” to see Doyle representatives passing out campaign literature, he said, “I was really shocked to see the candidate here.”

“We’re just trying to get to as many polling places as we can in the district,” Doyle told the Capital-Star.

Bloomfield is just one stop on Doyle’s election day campaign trail.

Starting in Monroeville, the Doyle team then received a “great response in Squirrel Hill,” Doyle said. There in Bloomfield, they were set to drive to Elizabeth in the Mon Valley, and then finish in Westmoreland County in the evening.

“Obviously, we believe that [Lee] will win the city,” Doyle said, “but we’re gonna get a fair share too, and we just want to be here to talk to the voters.”

“If we can get a few of them to change their mind and come vote for us, then even better,” he laughed.

“It’s important to have a presence in the city,” noted Russel Dwyer, the vice chairman of Pittsburgh’s Republican city committee. 

For the last two-and-a-half months, “We’ve been in just about every neighborhood, knocking on doors,” he said.

Pittsburgh Republican Committee Chairman Todd McCollum said party activists have been trying to reach moderate Democrats who might have voted for Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton whose “values are in line more with the Republican Party than the far-left Democrats.”

Republican 12th Congressional District candidate Mike Doyle (R) and his wife, Kye-Won Doyle, in Bloomfield, Pa., on Tuesday, 11/8/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).
Republican 12th Congressional District candidate Mike Doyle (R) and his wife, Kye-Won Doyle, in Bloomfield, Pa., on Tuesday, 11/8/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).

Lee volunteer Karla Doolittle explained her neighborhood of Bloomfield has two broad constituencies: older moderates and younger progressives under the Democratic umbrella.

“We talk to a lot of Democrats. We find that quite a few of those are going to be voting for Mike,” Dwyer added.

Doyle’s positions on crime and energy resonate with these moderate Democrats, Dwyer said.

Lee “said many times that she wants to abolish prisons. She believes that criminals are victims. Mike is endorsed by law enforcement,” Dwyer told the Capital-Star. 

“Their campaign is to end fracking and the use of fossil fuels,” he said, noting Lee’s support of the Green New Deal. “All it’s done is raise prices on energy, which in turn, is a tax on working people,” though he did not point to any evidence in particular to support this claim. By contrast, “Mike’s stance … [is] unleashing the power of natural gas here in this region,” he said. 

However, Lee’s volunteers thought differently.

“Obviously, it’s his right to be here,” Doolittle said, but noting Doyle “pulled up with a sign that says Democrats for Mike Doyle. And that’s a little suspect because,” current Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who now holds the redrawn seat, is retiring.

For months, media outlets reported concerns from Democratic party activists that the incumbent’s name recognition could cause confusion and advantage the Republican candidate in this race, according to WESA-FM. Though Democratic Rep. Doyle was among those concerned, he previously told the Capital-Star, that “for the most part it’s cleared up.”

A campaign sign in support of Republican 12th Congressional District candidate Mike Doyle in Bloomfield, Pa. on Tuesday, 11/8/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ethan Dodd).

However, Mike Doyle, the Republican, said he thinks his name “is a double-edged sword. I have to make sure the Republicans know I’m not that Mike Doyle.”

He also pointed to the other signs in front of the polling place.

“Does Fetterman’s say Democrat? Does Oz’s say Republican?” he asked, referring, respectively to the Democratic and Republican candidates for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seats 

Meanwhile, Doyle noted that Lee and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey have been photographed electioneering inside polling places across the city.

“It’s against the law. You’re not allowed to do that. That’s voter intimidation,” he argued, noting the Allegheny County Republican Party will “be filing an injunction and making sure that they stop, cease and desist immediately.”

Lee’s campaign manager Abigail Gardener said Lee “was thanking poll workers for their time. We’ve been advised by the county and a lawyer that it’s totally legal.”

Nonetheless, Doyle insisted this campaign “isn’t personal. This is just about ideas and ideals.”

Thomas noted the retiring Democratic representative of the district, “the real Doyle, not the fake Mike Doyle … was more of an old school moderate.” He added, “I’m glad to have more of a progressive” in Lee.

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Ethan Dodd
Ethan Dodd

Correspondent Ethan Dodd covers western Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Follow him on Twitter @ethandasaxman.