CONCORD TWP — A second Democrat has joined the race to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3rd.
Rob Joswiak, 31, of Concord Township announced that he will run in the May 20 Democratic primary for the chance to face Kelly of Butler in the November election.
“I’m running for Congress because Pennsylvania’s working families deserve a leader in Washington who understands their hopes as well as their concerns,” Joswiak said in a statement.
He said that Kelly helped to cause the federal government shutdown in October, and that Kelly sides with the “extreme tea party-wing” of the Republican Party rather than the people of the district.
“In Congress, I pledge to help create good-paying jobs, strengthen our education system, work to make college affordable, and keep our promises to America’s veterans and seniors,” Joswiak said.
He said that there are a number of jobs in the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry in the district, but many of them seem to be taken by people from the southern region of the country. He said that there should be more training here to make sure local people have jobs.
“The gas is here, the fracking is here, the jobs should stay here,” Joswiak said in an interview.
He noted that there are a lot of colleges and universities in the 3rd District, and he said there should be good jobs here so talented young people stay.
He graduated from Riverside High School in Ellwood City and from Penn State University.
Joswiak enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2005. He first served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany as a broadcast journalist for the American Forces Network. In 2008, he was deployed as a combat correspondent to American Forces Network Afghanistan at Bagram Air Field.
During his career, he was a two-time American Forces Network “Service Member of the Year” and received numerous other decorations, including a Joint Commendation Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, two Joint Achievement Medals and an Army Achievement Medal.
He finished his service in 2010, and he began working for the Department of Defense in 2011.
In 2012, he earned an master’s degree from Bowie State University in Bowie, Md. In December, he earned a graduate certificate in campaign strategy from George Washington University.
In April 2013 he was one of 663 people out of nearly 13,000 applicants to be selected as a Presidential Management Fellow, a two-year fellowship with the federal government that trains people for upper federal management positions.
However, he noted that the government shutdown meant that he and other fellows would not able to get a federal job due to the shutdown, so he chose not to pursue the opportunity.
The shutdown, as well as the federal sequestration earlier in 2013, partially prompted Joswiak to run.
“If (Congress is) going to mess with these jobs, we’re going to mess with their jobs,” Joswiak said.
He resigned from the Department of Defense in November and is running for Congress full time. He said he has been raising money for a little over a week, has a campaign office in West Sunbury and has been in contact with Democratic party officials in the district.
Last week, Matt Ryan, a Democrat from Cranberry Township, announced that he would run in the primary. Like Joswiak, he is a veteran.
Kelly is in his second term in Congress. In 2012 he defeated Democratic challenger Missa Eaton of Mercer County with 54 percent of the vote.
The 3rd District covers all of Armstrong, Butler and Mercer counties, all of Crawford County except Titusville, and parts of Clarion, Erie and Lawrence counties.