They’re Millionaires Helping Millionaire Matt Cartwright, Holden Camp Responds
Last week, PoliticsPA asked whether the Netroots, the national online progressive community, would take an interest in the PA-17 congressional race. Today, we have our answer.
A national progressive political action committee is targeting Rep. Tim Holden in a billboard campaign starting today in Lackawanna, Northampton and Schuylkill counties. The banners target Holden’s support for Marcellus shale drilling.
The progressive PAC is spending five figures and counting with the aim of boosting Holden’s primary challenger Matt Cartwright, an attorney from Moosic.
“The idea of Holden selling out that lovely land to the oil and gas industry makes me angry,” said Howie Klein, the organization’s treasurer. “That’s why we are trying to help get the word out about his support for fracking and why we’ve endorsed his opponent Matt Cartwright, an extraordinary candidate committed to the values that have always animated Blue America.”
The Blue America PAC was founded by Klein, now its treasurer, and is a combined effort of national progressive websites CrooksandLiars, Hullabaloo, and DownWithTyranny. DownWithTyranny has criticized Holden for years. This campaign directs viewers to a new Facebook page on the issue.
The PA-17 primary pits Holden, a former Schuylkill County Sheriff and the longest-serving member of Congress from Pa., against Cartwright, a prominent attorney from Lackawanna County. Historically, Holden has represented a Republican-leaning district. After redistricting, voters in the 17th are far more Dem-leaning – and 80 percent of his constituents are new to Holden. Not to mention that Cartwright has an impressive $600,000 cash on hand.
Holden’s campaign blasted the Blue America PAC as an outside group trying to meddle in the 17th district, and noted that Holden is taking heat from interest groups on both sides of the aisle.
“Throughout his career, Tim Holden has legislated from the political center, which is where
most of America and the 17th district find themselves,” said campaign manager Eric Nagy. “Now he is getting hit from the right by Texas oil baron billionaires with the Primary Accountability PAC and from the left by a Hollywood record company executive with Blue America PAC. It’s clear that no matter where your political ideology falls, you run the risk of offending one of these groups.”
Nagy took a swipe at Cartwright, too.
“What we have here is a case of the rich helping the rich – billionaires and millionaires coming to the rescue of fellow millionaire Matt Cartwright.”
The PAC’s press release highlighted this article from Republic Report, a watchdog website that features writings from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Cartwright echoed their criticism of Holden.
“I am thrilled by Blue America’s endorsement. The people of Northeastern PA need to know Tim Holden’s record over the past 19 years that he is trying to hide,” he said. “It is not just the Halliburton loophole, but his vote against health care reform, his opposition to legislation that would have made it harder for banks to foreclose on struggling families at the height of the recession, and the fact that he voted with George W. Bush 60% of the time.”
Klein says his axe to grind against Holden is personal because he once lived in the 17th district.
“I used to live in Stroudsburg in Monroe County, now part of this district, and I love the beautiful part of the state and the wonderful people who live there,” he said.
But he may not have gotten too far outside of Stroudsburg – the release says the billboards will appear in “Skuyhill” County, among others.
Update: PoliticsPA received a draft copy of the press release, and Klein notes that the typo was fixed in the actual version. In fairness, let the one who has never misspelled “Schuylkill” throw the first stone.
Also, as a commenter below notes, Stroudsburg is not in the 17th district – just barely. It’s surrounded by the 17th on three sides.