GOP PAC Singles Out Cartwright, Throws Shade at Bognet
A prominent GOP PAC says Matt Cartwright is beatable in 2022 — if he has a stronger opponent.
The Congressional Leadership Fund released a memo this week that mentions Rep. Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) as one of the top GOP targets for the 2022 cycle, saying that flipping a seat in Pennsylvania is key to winning back the House.
“Rural and working class districts present opportunities,” wrote CLF President Dan Conston in a memo first reported by Axios. “Early targets include: Ron Kind (WI-03), where we believe star Navy Seal Derrick Van Orden should seek a rematch, as well as Jared Golden (ME-02) and Matt Cartwright (PA-08), who will be far more endangered against stronger recruits.”
It’s an unwelcome message for Jim Bognet, Cartwright’s 2020 challenger who sent out a press release in early January teasing a 2022 rematch. Bognet lost to Cartwright by 3.5 points in PA8; President Donald Trump won by 4.5 points. Redistricting is almost certain to change the partisan lean of PA-8 even further.
CLF didn’t respond to PoliticsPA’s question of whether or not they’d intend to weigh in against a repeat candidacy by Bognet. Bognet’s campaign didn’t respond to comment about the jab. A former official from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) brushed it aside.
“Jim Bognet nearly pulled off the upset in 2020 and would be a top-tier recruit in 2022,” the official said. “Jim can most definitely win that seat in 2022 – especially now that we’ve seen hometown boy Joe Biden is nothing more than a sheep in sheep’s clothing who wants to end fracking in Northeast Pennsylvania.”
Memos like this matter because they represent the budding conventional wisdom between PACs, committees and the donors who fund them. Campaign laws limit direct coordination between PACs like CLF and committees like NRCC. However, those laws don’t apply to publicly-available information – such as memos reported in the news.
Cartwright’s campaign shrugged off CLF and said the Congressman is focused on pressing priorities.
“They’re getting ready to fire up the right-wing dark money disinformation machine again? New election cycle, same story,” said Cartwright Campaign Manager Colleen Gerrity. “Congressman Cartwright will keep working for Northeastern Pennsylvanians by getting COVID-19 shots in arms, $1400 checks in people’s hands, kids in school and workers in jobs.”
This isn’t the first time that CLF has targeted Cartwright. He was one of three Pennsylvania Democrats included in their initial 2020 memo, which was followed by ads throughout the cycle. The group already launched digital ads in 2021, slamming Cartwright over his vote for Nancy Pelosi to serve as House Speaker.
The only other Pennsylvania Democrat mentioned in the most recent CLF memo is Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny). He was included in a group of incumbents who they believe may run for higher office. Lamb has not said he will run for higher office, although he told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt in mid-February that he’s going to take a look at running for Senate.