JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS State Sen. David Argall (R-29) holds up a piggy bank filled with money collected by his nephew Brady to use as the first donation for Argall's candidacy for the 17th Congressional District.
David Argall admitted he took some convincing.
Monday, the state senator had a two-word answer for his daughter, a Pottsville truck driver, a Romanian immigrant and others who have urged him to run for United States Congress.
"I'm in!" said Argall in front of a large crowd that included family, friends and other supporters at The Restaurant at The Station, Tamaqua.
Argall, 51, a Republican from Lake Hauto, has served as state senator for Pennsylvania's 29th District since last March, after winning a special election to fill the vacant seat of the late James J. Rhoades, Mahanoy City, who died in an automobile accident in October, 2008.
Argall's senatorial district includes all of Schuylkill and parts of Carbon, Berks, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton counties.
Prior to winning the senate seat, Argall served as Pennsylvania representative for the 124th District, which includes eastern Schuylkill and northern Berks counties, rising to prominent positions in the House, including Whip and Appropriations Committee chairman.
Argall had been rumored to be considering a run at the 17th Congressional District seat held by incumbent Democrat Timothy Holden of St. Clair, who has been in Congress since 1992 in both the 17th and former 6th Districts.
Holden has been able to win reelection despite representing a district where the Republican Party holds the majority among registered voters. The 17th District includes Schuylkill, Dauphin and Lebanon counties and parts of Berks and Perry counties.
In order to face Holden in the Nov. 2 General Election, Argall would have to win the Republican berth in Pennsylvania's May Primary. Josh First, an environmentalist from Harrisburg, has also announced his candidacy on the Republican side.
Argall's day actually began with him making his announcement in Harrisburg, a block away from the Capitol. He also made stops at other locations in the district, including Perry, Lebanon and Berks Counties as well as Pottsville before ending at Tamaqua's refurbished train station.
Argall was introduced by his daughter Elise, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. It was Elise who was among the first to push him toward a Congressional run, he stated, while standing at a podium with a banner that read, "One of Us ... Working For Us."
Argall said he resisted such overtures.
"I really like what I am doing now," he reiterated once again.
Still, a groundswell of support continued to build. A Facebook page dedicated to Argall for Congress gained more than 300 people. Political bloggers speculated about a Congressional battle between two of Schuylkill County's most prominent elected officials.
"The last few weeks have been unlike anything I've experienced before," mentioned Argall.
A conversation with Troy Saunders, from Pottsville, a truck driver who sought out Argall, helped convince the state senator to make his Congressional bid.
"Troy explained to me in no uncertain terms that with all of the problems we have, Congress is leading us in the wrong direction," said Argall. "This area and this nation are on the wrong track. He said, 'Dave, you can't change Congress if we don't change our congressman."
"You have heard of Joe the Plumber? I am Troy the Trucker," said Saunders to the crowd. "I am an average American worker. I don't support politicians easily. You have to earn my vote."
Saunders expressed disapproval of the economic policies of President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress, including Holden.
"Dave is a principled leader who will fight for our rights and the Constitution," said Saunders.
Argall said that everywhere he goes, people approach him about their dissatisfaction with the direction the federal government has taken, including a $13 trillion deficit and massive unemployment figures over 10 percent.
Argall also noted an appeal from Rudy Ghergel, who in the 1960s hiked through the mountains of Romania and Yugoslavia to escape the Communist regime, come to America and live in freedom.
"We Americans take freedoms for granted. We don't realize what it means," said Ghergel. "In Romania, it was unbearable. All our liberties were taken away." He said Argall will protect constitutional liberties.
Urging the crowd to "don't think locally, think nationally," Ghergel voiced support for Argall's candidacy, stating he will be a new Republican with new brains in Congress.
State Rep. Gary Day (R-187th) said Argall is taking the hard road.
"Dave could stay in the position he is in, and it's the easier path, but he is saying, 'if I don't do this, who will?'" said Day.
"This is something he's wanted to do for a long time, and he will work as hard as humanly possible," added Jerry Knowles, who worked as a legislative aide to Argall before succeeding him as state representative for the 124th District.
"I understand this is not going to be easy, but this candidacy is not about me, it's about getting Congress headed in the right direction," said Argall. "I understand there are races where the incumbent wins again and again, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I had a chance."
To kick off the campaign, Argall's nephew Brady presented him with a piggy bank filled with some money to get him started.
"I don't want A.J. (his son) and Elise to tell their grandchildren and I'm in no hurry for them to have any that when this district was in trouble, I took a pass," concluded Argall.