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Cartwright Jumping in Against Holden

By Ben Hulac, Contributing Writer

Scranton Attorney Matt Cartwright is expected to announce his Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Tim Holden in Pa’s 17th congressional district at noon Tuesday.

A partner at the law firm Munley, Munley and Cartwright, Cartwright will be running against Rep. Tim Holden. According to Cartwright’s campaign manager, Shane Seaver, the announcement will take place at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center Tuesday.

Cartwright and his wife are fairly well-connected, and he hosts a regular call-in segment on local news where he discusses legal issues.

And he’s a team player. PoliticsPA took a peek at Cartwright’s contributions over the years. He has donated to U.S. Congress campaigns, for Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Chris Carney; to U.S. Senate candidates, for Bob Casey and Joe Sestak; and to presidential candidates, John Edwards and Joe Biden. Cartwright sent his largest donations to Casey and Carney – more than $6,000 per candidate.

Holden, who has represented Schuylkill County and surrounding areas for the past 18 years, will be campaigning in different counties this year due to the recent congressional redistricting. In fact, only 21 percent of residents within the newly-drawn 17th district have Holden as their current representative. And on top of that, 60 percent of registered Democrats within the 17th district live in Cartwright’s part of the district: Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

In short, Holden doesn’t have the same advantages this election that incumbents generally do. He’s been successfully running as a Democrat in a Republican district years; the new district has a partisan voting index of D+4.

During the 2010 election cycle, Holden easily defeated his challenger ⏤Sheila Dow Ford, an attorney from Harrisburg⏤ receiving 65 percent of the vote, a margin of 14,000 votes. Dow Ford harshly criticized Holden for his vote against the Affordable Care Act.

But when it comes to the upcoming primary, it appears to be a geographic rather than ideological challenge on Cartwright’s part. Though he has been critical of some of Holden’s votes, he said he too would have voted against the Affordable Care Act – likely to be a key litmus test for liberal Democrats wary of Holden.

“I would not have voted for it as is,” Cartwright told PoliticsPA in December. “I would have voted for something similar to that, but not as is.”

“I disagree with [PoliticsPA’s] characterization of that as the most important vote in the last number of years,” he said. Cartwright instead pointed to Holden’s vote against 2009 bill to amend housing foreclosure rules. Most Democrats supported the measure.

Cartwright’s CM Seaver is from Philadelphia by way of New Jersey, where in 2011 he was the deputy CM on the Democrats’ only legislative pickup in the Garden State.

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

5 Responses

  1. Tezak, I’ve met both Congressman Holden and Matt Cartwright a couple of times, and while I don’t know either of them well, the impression I have of both of them is that they are classy, professional gentleman. I don’t think either of them will practice uncalled for or unnecessarily divisive politics in their primary. Rather I expect a sincere and honest debate on the issues and their viewpoints, and the differentiation between them on those points.

  2. I am very excited for Matt Cartwright’s candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Cartwright will stand up for middle class families against big corporate interests, much like he has done in the courtroom for the last two decades. Unlike Rep. Holden, Attorney Cartwright believes in meaningful, comprehensive health care reform – including measures that will build on President Obama’s efforts, not destroy, repeal, or weaken them. Unlike Rep. Holden, Mr. Cartwright will not vote with the credit card companies on bankruptcy reform and will stand up for ordinary working Americans. This choice is clear for the Democratic primary voters, and for all voters, in 17th congressional district.

  3. Tim Holden is a slender reed who will do, say anything to preserve the perks of office, stay in Washington and keep him out of St. Clair for much of the year.

    He’s finishing his twenty at the end of this term and can collect his congressional pension immediately. He should be pensioned off.

  4. Give me a break Jack. Cartwright’s brand of divisive politics is exactly what is wrong with government. Tim is a very good congressman who listens to both sides and builds, not destroys.

  5. DISCLAIMER: I am not speaking on behalf of the campaign. My father actually happens to believe that the health care bill should have been stronger. Holden voted against it because he thought the bill went too far. The litmus test should be which democrat believes health care is a right and not a privilege.

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