A Pennsylvania Democrat will have a voice in crafting the national party’s message after all.
For the past two days, the House Democrats have been selecting their new leadership teams for the upcoming session and decided on the chairs for the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which they deem the “messaging arm of the caucus.”
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) was selected as one of the three co-chairs for the DPCC today, along with Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Ted Lieu (D-CA). Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) will be the new chair of the committee.
— House Democrats (@HouseDemocrats) November 29, 2018
“I am humbled and honored by being elected Co-Chair for the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee for the 116th Congress,” Cartwright said in a statement. “I intend to use this leadership position to help my party and the House of Representatives do more for the 8th congressional district of Pennsylvania.”
The Democrat from Northeast Pennsylvania was the only elected official seeking this position who represented a district that President Trump won in 2016. Cartwright carried the newly drawn 8th district in 2018 by about 10 points over Republican challenger John Chrin. Trump won the district handily in 2016 by close to double digits as well.
“Northeastern Pennsylvania reflects the make-up and spirit of much of the country. My colleagues recognized how crucial it is that the DPCC leadership include a member who knows about the struggles of working-class families and the economic challenges they face,” Cartwright said in a statement. “I understand both the hardships and the hopes that many rural and small-town Americans have. In my leadership role, I intend to help craft policies to address those concerns and aspirations.”
Although Cartwright was the only official who represented a Trump district seeking a seat on this committee, he was not the only Pennsylvania Democrat in the race. Congressional member-elect Chriss Houlahan (D-Chester) who will represent the newly drawn 6th district in the Philadelphia suburbs also was vying for a leadership role in this committee. Houlahan was the only candidate for the DPCC co-chair race who was an incoming Freshman believing the committee needed a “candidate or congressperson in the post-Trump environment” in a leadership role, stated in a Roll Call story.
PoliticsPA is seeking comment from member-elect Houlahan.
The three DPCC co-chairs for this current concluding term are Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), David Cicilline (D-RI) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). All three members are remaining in leadership in new roles.
Jeffries, who delivered the keynote address in the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s Fall Meeting, will be the new caucus chair. Bustos will be the new chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Cicilline is the new chair of the DPCC.
Cartwright is the only member of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation who is set to be on the leadership team for the incoming session.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills issued a statement on the new role for Cartwright.
“We are incredibly proud that he will be representing Pennsylvania in the leadership of the 116th Congress. Congressman Cartwright has always fought on behalf of Pennsylvanians, and we are confident that this will provide a wider platform to advance policies that will help move Pennsylvania and the country forward.”
Leading into this week, Cartwright was also the only elected official contending for a leadership role that did not formally endorse Rep. Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, according to Roll Call.
During his 2018 re-election bid, he often had to distance himself from Pelosi, while his opponent and the Pennsylvania GOP stated he was beholden to her and the progressive wing of the party.
Cartwright did vote for Pelosi yesterday in the leadership vote, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.
Cartwright cited Pelosi’s experience and leadership skills needed for the “very diverse” caucus into getting things done, specifically protecting Social Security and Medicare, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, making healthcare more affordable and fighting for veterans the Times-Tribune reports.
He also stated to the Times-Tribune that he isn’t afraid of a future opponent using his vote for Pelosi against him.
“It was a secret ballot, but I’m happy to tell you I voted in favor,” he said.