The 'Occupy' Candidate from Jenkintown

Nate Kleinman, 29, of Jenkintown, seeks to oust Allyson Schwartz in the 13th Congressional District


Running on a platform of supporting the middle-class and bringing jobs back to America, 29-year-old Jenkintown resident Nate Kleinman is seeking to secure the Democratic nomination for the 13th Congressional District in the upcoming April primary.

Kleinman, who is an active member of Occupy Philadelphia, said a contributing factor in his decision to run was dissatisfaction with the decisions being made by his current representative, Allyson Schwartz.

"There were a number of causes, but mainly, we're going down a path where our very democracy is threatened, and I don't believe that Allyson has been on the right side of a number of issues in Washington that have a direct impact on the character of our country," Kleinman said.

Those issues include Schwartz's support of economic policies that he says allow American companies to move off-shore, as well as her support for the Patriot Act and her opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as “Obamacare.”

"We are a country that has always relied on a strong middle class, but she supported free trade agreements that shipped job overseas," said Kleinman.  "She has actually worked to undermine the health care bill, which is something most people don't know about her."

Another concern for Kleinman is the role that money plays in legislation and elections.

"We've got to get money out of politics," Kleinman said.  "It's crushing our democracy.  We need people in Washington who will fight against it, and I'm one such person."

As if to demonstrate his sincerity, Kleinman's campaign is refusing to accept corporate donations.  Instead, the campaign is limiting its sources of funding to individual donors and progressive political action committees.

"I don't believe that money should be at the root of everything in politics," said Kleinman.  "I believe that I should be able to win based upon the issues.  As long as I get myself out there, knock on doors, talk to people, and go to town-hall meetings, I'll have the issues on my side and my stances will be much more aligned with the people of the 13th District."

Though Kleinman has no experience holding a public office, he's worked for several politicians in varying capacities, dating back to when he was a 10 year old helping Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky defeat Jon Fox in the 13th Congressional District in 1992.

Since then, Kleinman has served as a staff member for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Pennsylvania, a top aide to Joe Sestak in his unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2010, and a legislative assistant to then-Pennsylvania State Representative and current Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro in 2011.

Additionally, Kleinman has a long-standing passion for human rights activism, which he traces back to 1994, when his family took in two foreign-exchange students from Bosnia.

"Having two people who were my age that had seen war, seen their friends killed, and understood deprivation in a very real way — human rights were no longer an abstraction for me," Kleinman said.  "At the age of 12, that was a pretty profound lesson."

Feeling motivated to make a difference, Kleinman successfully started an Amnesty International chapter at the Abington Friends School.  In the years that followed, Kleinman's humanitarian efforts would take him to Central America, Europe and Africa, where he'd join non-violent democratic uprisings and participate in two politically-motivated hunger strikes.

Now stateside, Kleinman has continued his activist efforts with the Occupy Philadelphia movement, leading local and national media to label him as the "Occupy Candidate."  Despite the catchy moniker, Kleinman cautions that the movement is non-partisan, and has recently adopted a proposal during a general assembly to prohibit party affiliation or candidate endorsements.

"There was a proposal the other day which specified that Occupy was a non-partisan movement, and I was very happy to speak and raise my hand in support of it," Kleinman said.

If elected, Kleinman said that he would continue to keep ties with the Occupy movement, going as far as saying he would rejoin the movement whenever he was finished with politics.

In the meantime, he's going to be busy collecting signatures, raising funds and pounding the pavement as he prepares for an April primary showdown.

Editor's Note: Following publication of this article, Nathan Kleinman contacted Patch to request the following clarifications:

In a section describing Kleinman's travels after high school, the article states that "Kleinman's humanitarian efforts would take him to Central America, Europe and Africa." Nathan Kleinman says he has done extensive work on African issues but has not actually visited Africa.

Kleinman did say that Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz "worked to undermine" the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but said that she did not oppose the bill.

Kleinman said that the two Bosnians who stayed with his family in 1994 were "refugees" and not foreign exchange students. He also sought to clarify his involvement in the establishment of an Amnesty International chapter at the Abington Friends school, saying that he "helped start" the chapter and was not solely responsible.

tedtaylor February 04, 2012 at 07:11 PM
The problem with political discourse, Paul, is that if you fail to agree with someone elses opinion you go on the offensive and discredit their comments. We already have someone in the highest office in the land who really had no job experience either that's why we're in the mess we're in. Being a volunteer is not having a job, oft time politicians are insulated from what's happening in the re
tedtaylor February 04, 2012 at 07:13 PM
real world, and occupying public property in center city Philadelphia hardly qualifies him for a run at Congress. I see no distortion there, Paul. We'll simply have to disagree and that's the beauty of living in a free country.
Paul Mamolou February 04, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I am only discrediting your comments because they are false!! YOU went on the offensive (anti-Occupy) I simply defended Mr. Kleinman, We are in this mess we're in largely because of 2 unnecessary wars and a large tax break to the highest income earners in the US. We are (slowly) coming out of it thanks to our President Obama, who served in local, state and Federal government before being elected President. I often remind people that Jonh McCain almost skipped one of the candidate debates because the economy was in such a crisis he could not leave DC. I think that was before Mr. Obama was elected! Again, the article clearly states " Kleinman has served as a staff member for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Pennsylvania, a top aide to Joe Sestak in his unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2010, and a legislative assistant to...Josh Shapiro in 2011" . THREE JOBS. Now, either having worked is a good thing (as you seem to feel) or "politicians are insulated from what's happening" and lack of experience is a good thing. Which is it? If you disagree with the Occupy movement, that is your right, but it doesn't give you the right to say Mr. Kleinman never had a job. BTW, I happen to think that Allyson Schwartz has been a great representaive and I plan to support her in the upcoming election.
Marc Lombardi February 05, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Typical Ted Taylor rhetoric. Why let the facts get in the way of a good rant? That never stopped him before. Ted loves telling half of the story in order to support his "facts" quite often. I wonder if The Glenside Kid qualifies as a work of fiction.
Victor B. Krievins February 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM
We need Ted back to write the weekly column for the Times Chronicle. Better yet, he should write the column for Abington Patch. Ted, you are "the Man".


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