Mike Kelly was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Butler, Pennsylvania, where he has lived for more than 50 years. After graduating from Butler High School in 1966, Mike attended the University of Notre Dame on a football and academic scholarship. After college, Mike moved back to Butler to work at Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., a company founded by his father in the early 1950s. Mike took ownership of the dealership in the mid-1990s and expanded its operations to include Hyundai and KIA franchises.
As The Washington Post put it:
Kelly first got the itch to run for Congress in 2009, after the federal government took over General Motors. Kelly Motors has been in his family since his father started the business in 1953. In spring 2009, Kelly said, GM managers reviewed his Chevrolet-and-Cadillac dealership and concluded it was "perfect."
"Then they went to Washington and they got fired," Kelly said.
Under the government restructuring, he could sell Chevrolets but not Cadillacs.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Kelly said he told a GM representative. "This is America. You can't come in and take my business away from me. . . . Every penny we have is wrapped up in here. I've got 110 people that rely on me every two weeks to be paid. . . . And you call me up and in five minutes try to wipe out 56 years of a business?"
"'This is a new General Motors,'" Kelly recalled the man telling him. "'That's just the way it is.'"
Kelly went to arbitration and eventually won.
Fueled by his victory, Mike successfully ran for Congress the following year to take the fight to Washington and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Back in Butler, Mike's auto dealerships currently employ more than 100 people from the region, and are leaders in the local and national automotive industry. Mike has served as Chairman of the Hyundai Eastern Region Dealer Council, Vice Chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council, and has sat on the boards of the Chevrolet Dealers Advertising Association of Pittsburgh and the Cadillac Consultants of Western Pennsylvania. Additionally, Mike is a former Secretary and Treasurer of the Hyundai “Hope on Wheels” initiative, which has donated more than $100 million to childhood cancer research institutions nationwide. He continues to work with the organization as a lawmaker.
Prior to entering Congress, Mike served on the Butler City Council and sat on the boards of several local and civic organizations, including the Housing Authority of Butler County, the Redevelopment Authority of Butler County, and the Moraine Trails Council of Boys Scouts of America. In recognition of Mike’s extensive volunteer and charitable work, Catholic Charities awarded him its Mary DeMucci Award. The Mayor of Butler designated October 26, 2001, as “Mike Kelly Day” for his commitment to his hometown.
Dedicated to improving education, Mike founded the Butler Quarterback Club and The Golden Tornado Scholastic Foundation, each of which provides unique and innovative educational programs for students in the Butler Area School District. Mike and his wife, Victoria, a former elementary school teacher, also established the Mary McTighe Kelly Creative Teaching Grant for elementary educators and the Lighthouse Foundation’s One Warm Coat Program, which has helped collect hundreds of winter coats for students in need in the Butler community.
Mike and Victoria have four children and are the proud grandparents of ten beautiful grandchildren. Mike’s family and friends were with him on January 5, 2011, when he was sworn into office as the U.S. Representative of the Third Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
Mike is constantly honored and humbled to represent the values, interests, and concerns of the Third District, especially as they relate to his work on the House Committee on Ways and Means. He is proud to be considered a leader among his colleagues as he serves as the Republican chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, the Congressional Korea Caucus, the House Automotive Caucus, the House Retirement Security Caucus, and the House Small Brewers Caucus. He also sits on the steering committee of the Republican Study Committee.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review refers to Mike as a “no-nonsense, straight-talking Republican” and "a true man of the people." According to CQ Roll Call, “Any encounter with Kelly has the potential to erupt into a pep rally” thanks to his “gift for enthusiastic – and rapid-fire – communication.” The popular website Breitbart.com calls Mike "a fierce defender of conservatism on Capitol Hill."
Mike’s rousing speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives and at Ways and Means committee hearings have together earned more than 2 million views on YouTube. When he delivered the weekly Republican address to the nation right before Christmas 2014 (in which he offered President Obama a lump of coal for Christmas), it quickly became the most watched GOP weekly address of all time.
During his time in the House, Mike has appeared on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s Crossfire, and Fox News’ Hannity, Huckabee, and The Kelly File, among many others. Opinion features written by Mike have been published by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, USA TODAY, The Washington Times, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, National Review, and many other newspapers and websites.
Below are just a few of the awards and distinctions that Mike has received while serving Pennsylvania’s Third District:
- 60 Plus Association: Guardian of Seniors' Rights Award
- American Conservative Union: ACU Conservative Award
- American Farm Bureau Federation: Friend of Farm Bureau Award
- American International Automobile Dealers: Legislative Action Network Advocacy Award
- Association of Mature American Citizens: Friend of AMAC Award
- Family Research Council Action: True Blue Award
- Hyundai Hope on Wheels: Ambassador of Hope Award
- International Foodservice Distributers Association: Jefferson Award
- National Association of Manufacturers: Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence
- National Federation of Independent Business: Guardian of Small Business Award
- National Retail Federation: Hero of Main Street Award
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Spirit of Enterprise Award