14th District: Dave Joyce confident of yet another victory

By Ryan Brown

Photo courtesy of the candidate’s campaign

With Donald Trump at the top of the ticket for Republicans, many candidates running for the House of Representatives are worried about maintaining their seats come Election Day.

Rep. Dave Joyce is not one of those candidates.

Joyce represents the 14th District of Ohio and is running for his third term in Congress. Joyce has been representing the 14th District since 2012, when he took over for beloved Ohio politician Steve LaTourette, who retired from public service after 18 years. Even though it was Joyce’s first time running for Congress, he won the 2012 election by a 15-point margin.

Since then, Joyce has never really worried about winning re-election and that includes this year. Even with the threat of Trump’s effect on some down-ballot races, neither Joyce nor his campaign responded to requests from this reporter for an interview.

In light of recently a uncovered videotape featuring lewd comments from Trump about women, a spokesman for Joyce said he “supports the nominee.” The full statement was, “Dave agrees with Governor (Mike) Pence and does not condone and cannot defend the comments. But for him, the ability of our next president to appoint 80 people—including a Supreme Court justice—to our federal judiciary remains one of his top concerns… For this and many other reasons, Hillary is the wrong choice.”

Joyce’s district is a good mix of Republicans and Democrats. The Cook Political Report’s PVI score has the district as a plus-four district, meaning Republicans only have a four-point advantage.

Mary Frances McGowan, a John Carroll senior who’s a lifelong Democrat and resident of the 14th District, had this to say about Joyce: “I appreciate his ability to reach across the aisle on issues that affect all of Northeast Ohio, especially his commitment to the Great Lakes.”

The main issues Joyce focuses on in the legislature seem to be the Great Lakes and the environment. In the Media Center section on his website there is a press release revealing the passage of H.R. 223, which was a bill titled “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative of 2016.” It seeks to protect the Great Lakes until 2021. Joyce is quoted in the press release saying, “I believe water resources are the new gold. As such we need to make sure we are protecting one of the greatest natural and economic resources of our nation.”

On Joyce’s campaign website, joyceforcongress.com, there is no tab for the issues on the page at all. There are only short blurbs about each of the big policy positions Joyce holds on hot button issues. Of all of those examples, Joyce tows the party line very strongly. On the website it says he is not for amnesty for undocumented immigrants. In fact, right when you log on to the site those are the biggest words right near the top. The banner says, “Dave Joyce: NO AMNESTY.”

Below that are the rest of his positions, all of which are in line with the Republican Party platform. For example Joyce is in favor of repealing and replacing Obamacare, he is pro-life, he is a member of the National Rifle Association, he says he is a “fiscal conservative,” and he believes the military should always be properly funded. None of these positions branch off from the GOP even a little bit.

However, when you go to the “Legislative Process” tab on Joyce’s non-campaign website and click on the link that is supposed to show sponsored bills and co-sponsored bills, nothing shows up when the link is clicked. It brings you to a page hosted by congress.gov, but the page says “Page Not Found” for both links. The Joyce campaign did not respond when reached out to for an explanation by e-mail.

Interestingly enough, Joyce seems to have only claimed credit for the passage of the one bill pertaining to the Great Lakes. There is nothing else on either of his websites saying he has gotten any bills passed in Congress.

He has not been campaigning as much as other candidates. Joyce is running against the same Democratic challenger that he ran against in 2014. He beat that candidate, Michael Wager, by 30 percentage points the last time, and this time, he has another good chance of winning.

“Wager didn’t do all that well in 2014. Obviously that was a great year for Republicans,” noted Professor Colin Swearingen, politics and elections expert at John Carroll University, in an interview. “Even with that threat of a ‘wave election’ this year, Wager does not have the resources. His campaign has not been well run. It’s not been well organized. They don’t have money. They’ve had spats with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”

Being an incumbent, Joyce has a big advantage over Wager in this election. Swearingen said being an incumbent helps candidates in a few different ways including, “They have the ability to claim credit for things. They have name recognition. They’ve been on the ballot before, there has been no change on the ballot. They (voters in his district) have seen his name, they’ve voted for him before.”

The Joyce campaign did not respond to e-mails requesting an interview for this article. Despite contacting his office in Washington, D.C., where a spokesperson said to contact the campaign, neither Joyce nor anyone working for him commented when asked, for this article.

Joyce portrays himself has the jolly old neighbor who lives right next door. Joyce was unable to sit down and do an interview, but in the videos online of him in other interviews, he seems very personable.

There’s a Joyce ad on YouTube titled, “Just Dave.” In it, Joyce says, “I’ve got to deal with the loudmouth politicians in Congress. They love the title, ‘congressman.’ I like my real name better. So, when you see me around, just call me Dave.”

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