Joe Hoeffel was elected to the Pennsylvania state House in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982. He ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 1984, 1986 and 1996 _ he lost the latter election by 84 votes.
Hoeffel was elected a Montgomery (Pa.) County commissioner in 1991 and 1995. Hoeffel was elected to the U.S. House in 1998, unseating Republican Rep. Jon Fox. Hoeffel received 52 percent of the vote to Fox's 47 percent. He was re-elected in 2000 with 53 percent of the vote.
In 2002, he faced the possibility of a runoff against fellow Democratic Rep. Robert Borski as a result of redistricting, but Borski announced plans to retire.
Hoeffel was re-elected with 51 percent of the vote. He is retiring from the House to run against incumbent GOP Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004.