Glenn Thompson is not done with Washington yet.
The Republican congressman from Howard Township announced his re-election run on Monday with the first stops in a week that will take him through all of the 5th District’s counties.
“I want to continue to listen and lead,” Thompson said in an interview with the Centre Daily Times.
He started his district tour in Huntingdon at a VFW post where he met with veterans, then moved to a firehall in Smithfield where he spoke with farm families. He then swung through Centre County, meeting volunteers working at the State College Food Bank. He also stopped by Private Industry Council of Centre County to talk about workforce education.
Those meetings sum up the points Thompson lists as the top priorities on his agenda: veterans and the military, agriculture and career training. But ask him what it all means, and he boils it down to one word.
“As a (Boy) Scout master, as a school board member, I’ve just always been involved in public service,” he said.
Thompson is in his fourth term. He was elected to take over the seat of his predecessor, John Peterson, in 2008, the same election that brought Democrat Barack Obama to the White House. As he prepares another run in another contentious presidential year, he shakes off attempts to get him to back one candidate or another. He might later, he says, but he hasn’t decided yet just who he will vote for himself, yet alone who he might openly endorse, if he endorses anyone.
Thompson serves on the House Agriculture committee, Education and Workforce committee and Natural Resources committee.
“I have to work with whoever is in the White House,” he said.
And that’s true. Thompson’s entire congressional career has been with a Democratic head of state. Well, he admits, there were those first two weeks before the inauguration when technically there was a Republican president, “but the Bushes were busy packing.”
Thompson came to the office after helming Centre County’s GOP. Surprisingly, however, in an often black-and-white, us-them political world, one of the things he trumpets is his cooperation across the aisle. He is proud of recent votes that he said required bipartisanship, like the Every Student Succeeds Act that took the place of No Child Left Behind last year.
“Is there still partisanship? Yes. But a lot of it is outside the Beltway,” he insists, saying there are new pathways being forged to get things done in Washington. “We need to be creative. We need to think outside the box.”
We need to be creative. We need to think outside the box.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township
His 2014 victory came with about a 50,000-vote margin over Kerith Strano Taylor, but Thompson says his closest race remains his first primary when he stood out over a field of Republicans vying for the seat. In fact, he says, it was those opponents who prompted his run.
“I looked at them and thought, if they can run, I can run,” he said.
He has not heard if he will have any challengers this year. If he has a goal this election, it’s to broaden his margin.
His goal for the rest of the current term, however, is more legislation. He wants to achieve “robust reorganization” of workforce education, something he sees as key to overcoming U.S. poverty. He also wants to continue to overhaul health care.
But what will he do when he is done with Washington, or when the district stops sending him back?
“Whatever I do next, and I don’t know what it will be, it will satisfy my life’s work of serving other people,” he said. “But for now, I love what I’m doing.”
Thompson’s tour continues Tuesday in Clinton, Tioga, Potter, Cameron and McKean counties.