Mike Kelly (Pennsylvania politician)

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Mike Kelly
Mike Kelly, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Kathy Dahlkemper
Personal details
Born (1948-05-10) May 10, 1948 (age 67)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Victoria Kelly
Children 4
Residence Butler, Pennsylvania
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
Occupation Car dealer
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Campaign website

George Joseph "Mike" Kelly, Jr. (born May 10, 1948), is an American politician in the Republican Party who has been the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district since 2011.[1] The district is located in the northwestern corner of the state, stretching from Erie to rural territory near Pittsburgh.

Education and early career[edit]

Kelly was born on May 10, 1948, in Pittsburgh. He has spent most of his life in Butler, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh. He played varsity football as a fullback in high school, and his team reached two WPIAL championship games. He graduated from Butler High School in 1966. He received a scholarship to play football at University of Notre Dame, but his playing ended because of an injury.

After college, he worked for his father's Chevrolet/Cadillac car dealership. In 1995, he purchased his father's business, and then added Hyundai and KIA to his dealership lineup.[2]

Kelly is a former member of the Butler City Council.

United States House of Representatives[edit]



Kelly challenged incumbent Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper in 2010.[3] He won the election by 10%,[4] largely by running up his margins outside of heavily Democratic Erie.


Kelly defeated Democrat Missa Eaton 55%–41%.[5] His district had been made slightly friendlier in redistricting. The district was pushed slightly to the south, absorbing some rural and Republican territory east of Pittsburgh.


Kelly was challenged by Democratic candidate Dan LaVallee of Cranberry Township, Pittsburgh.[6]

During the election Kelly and LaVallee faced off on Oct 30, 2014 for the 3rd District debate on WQLN in Erie. The debate has created controversy when Kelly compared a cancer patient to drug addiction. When the question about the Affordable Care Act came up LaVallee spoke about a local constituent who has brain cancer (time-stamped 43:15).[7] Since Kelly already answered the question he didn't have time to respond about the patient's struggles with cancer. Two questions later the topic was Marijuana legalization (time-stamped at 46:01), "Are you in favor of legalizing Marijuana across the country. And why or why not?" The controversy came from Kelly who had the opportunity to respond first. His response was, "In my lifetime... Now, Dan talked about Brian, who has had some problems. I have worked tirelessly with people who have addiction problems. Both drug addiction and alcoholism. When you see the devastation that takes places within our society, within our families, within our communities. I think it would be hard to look at marijuana knowing that it is a gateway drug and say, 'This just makes sense.' I think, again, the more you learn the better you can lead. I think we have done a really bad job with our young people and talking to them about making the right choice." [8]

Mentioning a person's cancer in the context of Marijuana legalization and that a cancer patient's struggle is equivalent to being a drug addict has led to blow-back. Another problem that exists in the statement is that Kelly is implying cancer is a choice like similar to experimenting with drugs for the first time. Kelly has experienced some negative press about his comparison of cancer to drug addiction. First, the cancer patient that Kelly talked about was in the audience during the debate. He created a change.org campaign because he feels that Kelly, who is on the board of directors with Hope On Wheels and a pediatric cancer foundation, should not be a representative of the cancer community.[9][10] Secondly, the cancer patient was interviewed by a local newspaper, The Record-Argus, about his upcoming trip to Washington DC to advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society for increase funding of the NIH, reinstating pediatric cancer research within the Department Of Defense's Peer-reviewed Cancer Research Program, and passing legislation for oral chemotherapy parity laws. The report states, "... U.S. Rep, Mike Kelly, who Skibo said still needs to answer questions about remarks he made during last year's campaign debate in Erie.".[11][12] A few days later, when the cancer patient made it to DC he found out that Kelly was unwilling to meet with him. Kevin Schultze, Vice President, Congressional Relations, told the cancer patient that Kelly specifically asked not to meet with him so he was unable to talk to Kelly about how his own constituent is dealing with brain cancer and how Kelly can help him by supporting the above mentioned initiatives.


On July 25, 2012, Kelly delivered a speech on the House floor regarding federal employment regulations that received a rare standing ovation. The video has been viewed more than 800,000 times.[13][14]

On August 1, 2012, Kelly held a press conference to mark the effective date of the controversial HHS mandate, which is the subject of more than 20 lawsuits and which has been decried by religious freedom advocates as a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In his remarks, he said the mandate was an attack on Americans' constitutionally protected religious rights and that August 1, 2012, would go down in infamy as "the day that religious freedom died".[15]

Committee assignments[edit]

In addition, Kelly serves as the co-chair of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives from the 18 Northeastern and Midwestern States.[16]

Criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency[edit]

On July 28, 2014, Kelly compared the Environmental Protection Agency to terrorists while speaking at an event hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, where he attacked rules limiting power plant emissions, saying "You talk about terrorism – you can do it in a lot of different ways,... But you terrorize the people who supply everything this country needs to be great – and you keep them on the sidelines – my goodness, what have we become?"[17]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Congressional Automotive Caucus
  • Congressional Coal Caucus
  • Job Creators Caucus
  • Natural Gas Caucus
  • Sportsman's Caucus
  • Congressional Caucus on Korea
  • Congressional Services Caucus
  • Congressional Manufacturing Caucus
  • Congressional Steel Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Marcellus Shale Caucus
  • Pro-Life Caucus
  • Republican Study Committee

Personal life[edit]

Kelly lives in Butler, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Victoria. They have four children, George III, Brendan, Charlotte, and Colin, and seven grandchildren.[18]


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kathy Dahlkemper
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
William Keating
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Adam Kinzinger