Joyce tops crowded field

Doctor ‘humbled’ by support

Congressman Bill Shuster listens as 13th Congressional District candidate John Joyce addresses his supporters at the Altoona Grand Hotel on Tuesday evening. Joyce won the Republican nomination in a crowded race for the seat. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

In just eight weeks, Dr. John Joyce went from Altoona dermatologist to the Republican nominee for the 13th U.S. Congressional seat.

“We went in this campaign from zero to 60 in eight short weeks,” Joyce told his supporters that packed the ballroom at the Altoona Grand Hotel.

Results show he would clinch the nomination over seven other Republican candidates, including state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. and Art Halvorson.

Joyce, who garnered 14,627 votes, which came to 22 percent of the vote, said he was humbled and grateful for the support, and throughout his short remarks, he made it clear he would work for the voters.

“I want to be the conservative representative that stands with President (Donald) Trump in November and fights for the people of Pennsylvania 13,” Joyce said to his supporters, whom he credited along with his family as making his candidacy possible.

Joyce said his wife, Alice, “prayed with me, she encouraged me, she saw the ups and the downs of this candidacy.

“She has been my rock throughout this extremely fast-paced endeavor,” Joyce said.

As Joyce stepped from the podium to greet and shake hands with well-wishers and supporters, he took a few minutes to talk about the campaign and what he wants to do if elected in the fall.

“I think the voters were looking for a political outsider,” Joyce said.

“If it wasn’t for President Trump, also a political outsider, I don’t think I would have ever entered into this journey. People are willing to hear someone — a doctor, a small business owner. They want someone who doesn’t think outside the box. They want someone who thinks in a different corner of the box. And that’s what I bring to the table.”

Joyce pointed out that when he, along with his brother and two sisters, were knocking on doors to gather signatures to enter the race, it wasn’t uncommon for people to ask for a petition so they could get their friends to sign.

“They wanted someone who was common sense, who had worked with them before as a doctor — from a different venue — who was able to serve them and was interested in serving them at a different level,” he said. “Part of the Hippocratic Oath is that we pledge to serve people, and this is service. And that’s what I’m looking to do — serve the people of new Pennsylvania 13.

“People were very receptive to someone who was not encumbered by having a political background,” Joyce said.

Joyce said the top concerns he’s heard as he traveled the 10 counties in the district include protecting Medicare and Social Security, addressing the opioid problems plaguing communities in every county and supporting a strong military.

“People know a strong military is no longer a luxury,” Joyce said, pledging to work with Trump on the issue. “It’s truly a necessity.”

Joyce was introduced to the electrified supporters by the man he’ll replace should he beat Democratic nominee Brent Ottaway in November’s general election — Congressman Bill Shuster (R-9th).

“The numbers are in — John Joyce won tonight,” Shuster said as the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.

As Shuster thanked everyone for their hard work during the primary, one he referred to as a “hard-fought fight.” Shuster added that Joyce “outworked everybody and did a great job.”

Afterward, Shuster said he believed the difference in the race that set Joyce apart was he worked extremely hard and is a conservative who is not a political insider or career politician.

“And he’s not a crackpot like Halvorson,” Shuster said.

He said he was grateful Joyce decided to run because he was concerned “someone would be elected and this district would go into a black hole for a decade.”

“Now we are passing the baton to John Joyce, and he’ll be great,” Shuster said.

Joyce downplayed the support of Shuster and his father, Bud Shuster, who served the district in Congress before him, saying it was the support of the voters who made the difference.

“It’s an incredibly overwhelming experience,” he said of the of the voters’ support.

Joyce said the win has “invigorated” him to face Ottaway in the fall.

Ottaway told the Mirror that he is looking forward to facing Joyce in the election.

“I’m looking forward after all this time to having it narrowed down,” Ottaway said. “I think he’s a good man who will run a good campaign.

“It’s very interesting that this district has decided to send a non-politician to Congress,” said Ottaway, an educator who is also a political outsider. “I think that’s a sign that people are tired of a Congress that’s mired in mud that they sling at one another instead of discussing and solving problems.”

He added that Joyce is someone he respects, and although they may disagree, will hopefully give the voters an opportunity to hear them debate and talk about the issues together.

“We disagree on a lot of issues, and I think it’s important for the district for voters to hear us out and take every opportunity to learn our plans and our thoughts so they can choose the better person for the job,” Ottaway said.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458. Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan contributed to this report. (This story was updated at 10 a.m. Wednesday).