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Friday Q&A: catching up with Steve Welch, candidate for congress.

If you live in Pennsylvania’s sixth district, Steve Welch wants to have a word with you. As reported by Technically Philly, The Mitos Group founder and managing partner of University City incubator DreamIt Ventures declared his candidacy as a Republican for Congress this summer and has since been in full-fledged campaign mode trying to build […]

If you live in Pennsylvania’s sixth district, Steve Welch wants to have a word with you.
As reported by Technically Philly, The Mitos Group founder and managing partner of University City incubator DreamIt Ventures declared his candidacy as a Republican for Congress this summer and has since been in full-fledged campaign mode trying to build a network of volunteers in his gerrymandered district that stretches from the border of Philadelphia to Reading.
“We’re really focusing on meet and greets in diners and in people’s homes. Often it’s only five to ten people,” Welch says.
The campaign is Welch’s first and it has him relying on the entrepreneurial community of the region while simultaneously trying to build a network of supporters from scratch. So far, he has four full-time staffers (including current representative Jim Gerlach’s former chief of staff Guy Ciarrocchi) and a new Phoenixville office.
“When I set off on this course, I said to my wife: ‘This is me starting another business’,” he says.
Currently, there are four other candidates all ramping up for a May 18th Republican primary. We caught up with Welch to ask him how his life has changed since declaring his candidacy, his response to being snubbed by his competition and, if he won, would he follow in the footsteps of former Delaware Senator Joe Biden and take Amtrak down to the capital.

So what stage is the campaign in? What is your next big hurdle?
The primary is May 18th so there is still a ways to go, but for someone who is coming from outside the political process, we need that time to get out and talk about our message, which is about doing things in this region that attract high-growth, innovative companies, which is where job growth comes from.
What does the competition look like so far? How many other candidates are you up against?
I lost count. Let me count this real quick because we’ve had some people drop out. [Pauses.] We have Howard Cohen, Curt Schroder, Patrick Sellers and [Walt Hufford].
Our friends at PA2010 wrote about Curt Schroder snubbing you at a banquet dinner. What was your reaction to that?
I’m sure it was unintentional, Curt is a great guy and someone I think highly of and has served us well. I think the days of high school-ish political campaigns are over. There’s just too much at stake. There are two wars and we have an unemployment rate at 10 percent and climbing. I think now are people are very serious, and these high school-type of campaigns will go away.

“If this were a different year or a different time and I don’t think outsiders like us could come in and have people wanting to talk”-Steve Welch

What has the response been to your message?
There is an anxiety on both side of the isle and they are loking for new ideas. Because of that I think people are very susceptive. To be blunt, if this were a different year or a different time and I don’t think outsiders like us could come in and have people wanting to talk.
Has there been any negative response from your message among the Republican the party?
One thing you learn in the political spectrum that is a little different is that there are alliances, and people are sometimes not going to like you just because you are running against somebody that they like and that’s fine. I think what we’ve seen is that we are attracting everybody from people that would consider themselves hardcore conservatives to people that have left the party.
Last time we spoke you were running in the seventh district. Why did you switch? Was it a personal choice or something handed down by party strategists?
When I first set out, the field looked very different. Joe Sestack [who has declared his candidacy for Senate] was sitting in the seventh district and people will tell you he has been a poor congressmen and someone we need to get rid of, frankly. Jim Gerlach was sitting here in the sixth and had done very well. After Jim announced he would run for governor, and because I grew up in Chester county, I had a number of people come to me and say: “Hey this would be a great seat for you and we need you here.”
At the time they didn’t feel like they could have someone [in the sixth that could] win in a general election. At the same time, Pat Meehan was looking to run in the seventh. Pat is a great individual and just the type of person we need running and could clearly win the seventh.
This isn’t about me, its about leading us back to a path of prosperity for this country and if Pat wins the seventh and we win the sixth, we pick up two seats and I think that’s the best outcome for the region.
Should you win, will you be taking Amtrak down to Washington or will you pack up and move?
[laughs] I definitely won’t be moving to Washington, my wife and children are here. Though, how I get down there is undetermined. But that’s several steps ahead of where we are now.

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