HOLLIDAYSBURG - Speaking to a packed crowd at Allegheny Street Coffee Company on the Diamond, two-term state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, announced that he's going for the hat trick.
The 8 a.m. meeting kick-started a five-county tour for his third term re-election campaign, which was to conclude with a Duncansville Volunteer Fire Company banquet Saturday evening.
Blair County Republican Party Chairman A.C. Stickel introduced Eichelberger, thanking attendees for braving the frigid temperatures when "it might have been easier to curl up under the covers." Stickel praised Eichelberger for his service to the district and willingness to take on both parties.
"[He's] fighting liberals, some conservatives, some Democrats, some Republicans, and standing up for what he believes," he said. "I guess that's probably the greatest thing you can say about John is you know where John stands. You know what he believes. And he's not willing to back down from that."
A mix of elected officials, including Altoona city councilmen Michael Haire and Dave Butterbaugh, President County Commissioner Terry Tomassetti and County Sheriff Mitch Cooper were in attendance, along with state Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, whom Eichelberger called an important ally in the Capitol.
Republican 80th House District candidates Aaron Ritchey and Judy Ward were there as well, along with U.S. House candidate Art Halvorson, who is looking to unseat Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District.
Much of Eichelberger's stump speech focused on the blue pickup truck he bought eight years ago, on which he said he's logged almost 220,000 miles in his time as a senator.
Eichelberger said it's accumulated a little rust and recently needed a new transmission, but it remains "an excellent vehicle for us" and is a key campaign talking point.
"I have almost 332,000 miles on the truck and ... we talk about where we're going to be for the next 300,000 miles," he said.
Eichelberger praised his supporters for standing up for conservative values and said he will continue to fight for them.
"I'll be with you. I'll be your voice in Harrisburg one of your voices in Harrisburg. But I really appreciate your voice here," he said.