LAWRENCE COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — A Lawrence County farmer has been invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week.
Rick Telesz says he voted for Donald Trump four years ago, but this year he’s backing Joe Biden. Telesz, of Volant, is a soybean and dairy farmer. He’s more comfortable with the cows and tractor on his 700-acre farm than the national stage.
“I’m not active in politics, none whatsoever,” Telesz told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
In 2016, Telesz says he supported Trump like many others in his Democratic county that voted for Trump.
“There wasn’t anything he said that sounded like he was going to hurt agriculture. It sounded like he was for the working class, the middle man, and I gave him a chance,” Telesz said.
But Telesz says Trump’s trade war with China and tariffs on soybeans, one of the state’s top exports, is killing his family farm.
Telesz: I am looking at upwards of 40 percent hit from the tariffs.
Delano: Forty percent hit? That’s a lot.
Telesz: Oh, and it’s devastating.
And he says almost all Pennsylvania farmers are hurting.
“It doesn’t have to be a soybean farmer, it doesn’t have to be a dairy farmer. Anybody involved in agriculture, it’s had a negative effect,” said Telesz.
So how does he feel about the invitation to speak about this to a national audience?
“I’m flattered, truly flattered. And I seriously do ask myself, why me?” Telesz said.
Telesz is the kind of Trump voter that Biden needs to carry the state. He’s one of those voters who votes the person, not the party.
Telesz is not sure when exactly he will speak to the Democratic Convention or if it will be in person or via teleconferencing. But the speech will be short, perhaps just a minute.
One way or the other, this farmer from Lawrence County will certainly get a national spotlight.