What you need to know about the 2nd U.S. Congressional District race

Brendan Boyle and Aaron Bashir are in the running for the house seat in Philadelphia’s 2nd Congressional District.


On and before Election Day, Philadelphians will cast their ballots for who will represent the 2nd United States Congressional District, which includes Temple’s Main Campus. Brendan Boyle (D-Incumbent) is running against Aaron Bashir (R), an adjunct professor at the Community College of Philadelphia and consultant in Philadelphia. 

The 2nd Congressional District encompasses the east side of Broad Street and spans as far south as Race Street and as far north as Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Here’s what you need to know about Boyle and Bashir.

Brendan Boyle (D-Incumbent)

Boyle, who hails from Olney, is running for reelection after holding the position since 2018. Prior to serving in Congress, he was elected in 2008 as the first Democrat to represent Pennsylvania’s 170th Congressional District.

Boyle supports student debt relief and is the co-founder and co-chair of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Caucus, a group in Congress aimed to protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by encouraging students to pursue public services roles, he said at an October event in the Howard Gittis Student Center. 

He believes there are three main problems with student debt — many people with student loans did not graduate from college, people of color often graduate with more college debt than white students and the past two generations to attend college faced higher tuition and increased loans. 

“I have spoken to economists and some folks on Wall Street, some folks who are not exactly left leaning on Wall Street, who say ‘my god, this is now at a level that this is a systemic risk to the entire economy,’” Boyle said.

In 2020, Boyle signed a letter to former United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, urging the U.S. Department of Education to alleviate students’ cost to relocate from their universities after the initial surge of COVID-19 cases. Boyle and 67 other members of Congress signed the letter that pointed towards possible solutions like tuition reimbursement and financial assistance for their unexpected travel.

Boyle also supports the constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights. He sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 in the House, which protects a woman’s right to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy, Boyle said. 

“I’m glad that even with a narrow House majority, that we were responsible and able to do our job for women’s health,” Boyle said. “I would urge all of my Senate colleagues, especially Senate Democratic colleagues, to do what it takes to pass this.”

To help address gun violence in the district, Boyle said he works with a local group called Mothers In Charge, an organization founded by mothers who lost their children to gun violence and advocate for families affected by violence. Boyle hopes to crack down on the illegal trade of firearms and restrict civilian access to assault rifles.

“The first gun bill to pass Congress to be signed by presidents in 1994 also was passed and signed into law and was largely, at least in the Senate, was largely bipartisan,” Boyle said. “Now [the bill] doesn’t go as far as I would like. But on background checks, on straw purchasers, on closing the boyfriend loophole, it makes a real difference. So that will help.”

Boyle is endorsed by 21 labor unions, including PGW Local 686 and United Steel Workers, Planned Parenthood and former Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

Aaron Bashir (R)

Aaron Bashir migrated from Pakistan to the U.S. in 2001 and gained citizenship in 2006. Bashir is a 2006 bachelor of business administration alumnus. 

Bashir is focused on securing neighborhoods, creating and supporting energy-related jobs, bolstering the economy and supporting education access, according to his campaign website

Bashir hopes to work with law enforcement and community leaders to address safety and sanitation and utilize technology to cut government costs and lower local taxes, according to his campaign website.

He also hopes to support small businesses by allocating tax money away from abortion care towards local businesses and the energy sector. 

Bashir is also in favor of school choice, which allows students to choose the school that fits their needs and allows public education funds to follow them to their preferred school, private or public.

Bashir is endorsed by Firearms Owners Against Crime, The Family Research Council and the National Federation of Independent Business. 

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