Holden, Altmire Bite the Dust

Newcomer Matt Cartwright stunned Blue Dog Tim Holden and Mark Critz bounced Blue Dog Jason Altmire out of Congress tonight.  This is progress for Pennsylvania.  Ironically Holden loved his new District map so much he twisted arms in the state legislature to approve the redistricting.  It cost him his seat.

In other races Kathleen Kane will lose to david Freed in  November, Gene Stilp won in PA-11 to challenge Lou Barletta using, as he Tweeted, grassroots and social media.  Rick Daugherty defeated Jackson Eaton in PA-15.

Erin Molchany won the nomination for the 22nd State House seat, Marty Schmotzer will take the seat until January and various other races are still close.  My friend Joe Haas swept to victory in House 187 over Bill Bispels who really didn’t mount a campaign,  

Joe Sestak Endorses Matt Cartwright

I can boil this race down to one sentence:  Matt Cartwright is a good man and Tim Holden isn’t.

We saw the real Tim Holden last week when he made a huge mistake.  In an ad created by Joe Trippi Associates Holden accused Cartwright of buying a trial verdict through a campaign contribution to a Judge.  It showed how low he was willing to go to smear an opponent and also showed his laziness in ascertaining facts.  None of this is new for Holden.

When the media uncovered the facts here’s what they found:  Cartwright, a frequent and generous contributor to Democrats for many years, gave a campaign contribution to a Judge, in later years convicted of corruption, four years before a jury decided a case for one of his clients.  The woman had been misdiagnosed with cancer, something a simple urine test would have revealed, and underwent seven months of chemotherapy.  A jury awarded her $3 million.

The case underscored Cartwright’s work for the people, those being hurt by other’s mistakes.  Holden has supported tort reform which would have prevented this victim from seeking justice.  Then he tried using guilt by association to smear Cartwright.  Had he done just a bit of research he would have discovered it was a jury verdict which had nothing to do with the judge presiding over the case.  He would have discovered the contribution was four years before the trial.

Tim Holden has a sorry record of mis-stating facts.  He continues to insist, for example, that he voted against ObamaCare because it cut Medicare.  It did not.  He lives in his own fantasy world where voting with George W. Bush 60% of the time means you’re a Democrat.    I know a woman (That Woman! a nickname she got for standing up against Holden) who, as a former constituent, got a phone call from the Congressman over her stand against his vote for the Iraq War.  He screamed at her on the call calling her “That Woman!

This controversy told us all we need to know about the two men running for the 17th Congressional seat.  Matt Cartwright is a good man and Tim Holden isn’t.

I got a glimpse of who Cartwright is yesterday at his rally in Easton.  A marching band drum section, for some strange reason, took up playing their instruments in the middle of his speech.  (They were there for a rally following his)  Matt didn’t go ballistic, he simply stood there quietly while they were silenced by people in his crowd then made a joke about it.  Watch it on the video.

The 17th CD: The Most Important Democratic Congressional Primary in the Country

This is a guest column by Marc Stier who headed efforts here in Pennsylvania to get the Affordable Care Act passed.

by Marc Stier



Voters in the 17th Congressional District in Pennsylvania have an opportunity to do something really important, not just for themselves, but for the entire country: defeat Congressman Tim Holden. who represents the Republican wing of the Democratic party.  

It is obviously important to the 17th District to have a member of Congress who actually support their interests, not those of the corporate rich. And it’s important to the Democratic Party and the country as a whole to rid ourselves of members of Congress who fail to do the minimal in standing up for the ideals of our party. Defeating such members will send a critical message throughout the Democratic Caucus: Democratic members of Congress are accountable to us.

And, as I explain below, defeating Tim Holden will remove from office a whining, gutless, dishonest example of the American politician at his worst.

Let me be clear: I’m not a wild eyed leftist. I’m a slightly left of center Democrat. I’m not naïve about political strategy either. In endorsing Allyson Schwartz, I pointed out that members of Congress sometimes have to stand apart from progressive ideals in order to be reelected. And I said that they have a “moral responsibility” to do that because control of the House is important for the party and the country-so long as they don’t vote the wrong way when progressive legislation is at stake and their vote is absolutely necessary.

But Tim Holden’s opponent, Matt Cartwright, is not only a much more progressive Democrat than Holden, he is someone who can definitely win and hold the 17th Congressional District this year and in years to come.

Moreover, Tim Holden is not just a member of Congress who votes with Republicans now and then in order to preserve his seat. He votes with Republicans much of the time, and what’s worse, and on the issues that are most important to us, without making any attempt to persuade his district, and when his voted is definitely needed. And, on top of that he repeats Republican lies to justify his vote.

I’m talking, of course, about the Affordable Care Act. I met with Congressman Holden a few times, and until they cut us off, talked to his staff many times when I ran Health Care for America Now in our state. In all those conversations, I never once heard Congressman Holden show any serious concern about the tens of thousands of uninsured and underinsured in his district or the even larger group of people whose health insurance were going up far faster than their wages. Instead he whined about how health care reform (and cap and trade) were creating political problems for him.

Even his chief health care staff person was disappointing. She repeated blue dog talking points to me whenever I met with her.

And let me point out that even the old 17th district had a Democratic majority and supported Obama, unlike a lot of other districts held by Democratic members of Congress who voted for the ACA.

When members of Congress like Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney were out in their districts, facing the tea party, and working with citizen and labor activists to defend what became the ACA, Tim Holden was hiding under his desk. He only came out to attend a private event hosted by an insurance company.

And, after the vote and since, Holden defended his stance by repeating the totally false Republican claim that the ACA cuts Medicare and Medicaid benefits. I called him on that two years ago in the Patriot-News. His constituents need to call him on it now.

What kind of Democratic member of Congress not only votes against his party on the most important legislation in his career but undermines the other members of Congress from his own party as well as a Democratic President by repeating Republican lies?

I hope that on Tuesday the answer will be Democratic Congressman who goes down to a well-deserved defeat in a Democratic primary.  

Desperate Holden Pulls Deceptive Ad

Congressman Tim Holden, desperate to hold onto his seat after twenty years of screwing his fellow Democrats, was forced to pull a deceptive ad he was running.  In the commercial he accused his opponent, attorney Matt Cartwright, of buying a verdict.  One problem:  the campaign contribution tot he Judge in the personal injury case was four years prior to the case.  Either Cartwright was psychic or he’d been using a Ouja Board.

The legal case involved a client of Munley, Munley and Cartwright who was forced to undergo eight months of chemotherapy and a hysterectomy for cancer a simple urine test would have established she didn’t have.  The malpractice case made national news and is proof of the fallacy of “tort reform” which Holden supports.  Tort reform means preventing people from suing for nefarious decisions made by doctors, some of which ruin people’s lives or, worse, end them.

Tim Holden didn’t allow facts to get in the way of what he thought was a good story however and his team created and ran the deceptive ad.  To what lengths won’t this desperate man go to hold onto his seat in Congress?  This is simply more evidence that it is time for Tim Holden to go.

CD 17 Endorsement

Tim Holden was my Congressman for many years.  I know this man and his record very well, so well I never voted for him as a Democrat, even when I was a Committee person.  A Blue Dog Democrat who voted more often with George W. Bush than not, he disgraced the ground upon which he trod as a Democrat.  Rumor in Berks County has long been that he used to be a Republican but switched when he got Democratic Berks in his District.  I don’t know if it is true but he has long voted that way.

On the other hand Matt Cartwright is a real progressive.  I wish he supported women better but then he is a Catholic.  The important point is that he doesn’t feel he should legislate his moral beliefs on the issue which actually makes him a supporter of individual choice.

On every issue Matt is right there.  He has gone after Holden hard on his voting record, exposing his true nature to the new constituents of this drastically redrawn District.

One ethical question hovering over Holden may be his use of Congressional funds to hold town halls in the areas he won’t be officially representing until January.  I have requested information about this from his Washington office but have not received a response.  If Holden is spending taxpayer money outside his current District it is for purely political reasons and unethical if not illegal.

I heartily endorse Matt Cartwright for Congress.

CD 12 Endorsement

One of the fiercest battles this year has been the fight between current Congressional incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz in the redrawn 12th Congressional District.  Since Pennsylvania lost a seat due to the census Republicans packaged these two men together in the new 12th.  Altmire is a very conservative Democrat who defeated radical right Representative Melissa Hart for his seat.  Critz inherited his when Jack Murtha passed away.

Jason Altmire is someone who votes with Republicans most of the time on key issues, in key votes.  His Democratic credentials are more questionable even than Tim Holden’s.  In fact he makes Tim look like a liberal.  I cannot support someone with such a right wing voting record.

Mark Critz has been a staunch supporter of Labor though and has a more moderate voting record.  He is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination though.  The shenanigans surrounding his election in a special election still hang over him but he is the better choice in this conservative region of Pennsylvania.  I won’t endorse him because he is not a progressive but there is a clear choice in this race for union workers and their families.

Holden Sells Chesapeake Bay Down the River In Exchange For Campaign $$$

I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay.  I spent summers there from the time I was a tyke until I went to college at a family summer cottage we had on Town Point.  The Elk and Bohemia Rivers flowed there and across Elk Neck the Susquehanna River flowed into the Bay at Havre De Grace.  The massive Susquehanna system begins in Cooperstown, New York and the entire watershed, including the West Branch, drains most of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

So many Keystone Staters visit the Chesapeake Bay region the locals refer to them as the “Pennsylvania Navy.”  The Bay is one of our nation’s richest resources, not just for boating but for crabs, oysters and rockfish.  The Maryland economy is largely based on the health of the Bay and fighting pollution flowing down from Pennsylvania has been an important environmental issue for decades.  Runoff from our farms and fields pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.  Most of this comes from commercial fertilizers used on the millions of acres of agricultural land throughout the Susquehanna Watershed.

In a race for his political life Congressman Tim Holden has sold all of us down the river.  Republic Report has all the details about how he sold out the Bay for campaign cash.  He has raised $16,000 from Big Agriculture since introducing a bill limiting the EPA from enforcing the Clean Water Act.

And in March, Holden came to the rescue of industrial farm interests with a bill he introduced along with Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Holden’s bill would prevent the EPA “from implementing the long-awaited, court-ordered Chesapeake Bay restoration plan known as the Chesapeake TMDL (total maximum daily load).” The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Doug Siglin says Holden’s bill would “undermine the pollution limits currently in place, derail clean-up efforts, and undercut the federal government’s role in making sure that all Americans have access to clean, swimmable, fishable waters.”

Tim Holden is already under heavy attack for his support of natural gas hydrofracturing (fracking) in a region being heavily drilled and where residents of nearby Dimock can’t drink their water.  Now he’s on record trying to pollute the Chesapeake Bay.  What won’t Holden do to sell us all down the river?

Cartwright Collects Endorsements, Holden Ducks Debate…Again

While Congressman Tim Holden ducks yet another debate his opponent is collecting key endorsements.  Matt Cartwright collected the backing of both MoveOn.org and the League of Conservation Voters today.

“The LCV Action Fund endorsement is a significant statement from the environmental community that my platform balances the need for economic development and job creation with protecting our precious natural resources,” said Matt Cartwright after receiving the organization’s support. “I am proud that so many groups from different perspectives – environmentalists, business leaders and union activists – have backed my candidacy and I look forward to fighting for their values in Congress,” continued Cartwright.

The LCV Action Fund specifically praises Cartwright’s principled position on natural gas extraction noting his stance to ensure that the process is conducted in a scientifically sound manner to safeguard our drinking water from preventable pollution.

“Matt Cartwright has fought to hold corporate polluters accountable to protect Pennsylvanians from the hazardous chemicals released in natural gas extraction,” said LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski. “LCV Action Fund is proud to endorse Matt Cartwright because he understands that the policies needed to grow America’s economy and keep our competitive edge are the same policies that will protect the air we breathe and the water we drink for generations to come.”

Yesterday the American Postal Workers Union Local 101 also endorsed Cartwright:

“I am very pleased to accept the endorsement of the Postal Workers Union that represents the countless dedicated public service employees throughout my district,” said Matt Cartwright. “Their support is indicative of the widespread support my campaign has sought and received as we have worked to reach out to directly to the voters of the 17th District,” Cartwright continued.

The Postal Workers endorsement was based upon Cartwright’s platform on job creation and retention for working class families and a pledge to ensure that the U.S. Postal Service does not impact local jobs as it seeks to reorganize.

As Kevin Gallagher, President of Local #101, states in a letter announcing the endorsement, “We need someone who will fight for our Area and middle class families and to keep decent paying jobs in our Area… including the Scranton mail procession plant.”

From MoveOn:

In a year when Americans are looking to elect leaders who will work to rebuild the middle class, MoveOn’s members in Pennsylvania’s seventeenth congressional district voted overwhelmingly to endorse Matt Cartwright for Congress for his proven track record of siding with working families. MoveOn’s members cited his consistent efforts fighting for the 99% and standing up to powerful special interests and the 1%.

MoveOn has more than 12,000 members in the 17th district, and of those who participated in the endorsement vote, a decisive 84% voted to endorse Cartwright.

“Matt is a strong supporter of fair taxes, which means making sure corporations pay their fair share instead of receiving ‘job stimulating tax breaks’ at the expense of the workers they have been laying off,” said April, a MoveOn member from Easton. Juliette, a MoveOn member from Stroudsburg, voted to endorse Cartwright saying, “Matt is a progressive Democrat. He stands up for the underdog.”

As part of their support for the Cartwright campaign, MoveOn’s thousands of members in the district will help provide the grassroots support-including volunteer boots on the ground – that Cartwright needs to win.

“I am thrilled and humbled by this endorsement. MoveOn has been in a leader in fighting for the issues that matter to every Democrat.  I am running for Congress because I believe corporate America has taken advantage of working families and the middle class, and it needs to stop,” Matt Cartwright said upon hearing of the endorsement. “I have spent my professional career protecting people and small business owners from the predatory lending practices of big banks and financial institutions. InCongress, my top priorities will be bringing jobs to northeast Pennsylvania, and making corporations and wealthy Americans pay their fair share of taxes,” Cartwright added.

Meanwhile the cowardly Holden refused to even respond to an invitation from The League of Women Voters to debate Cartwright.  What is the yellow Blue Dog afraid of, his conservative voting record?  His past history of supporting George W. Bush’s shredding of the Bill of Rights?  Is he afraid to face the voters and explain his support for the Iraq war, the Cheney Energy task Force and its Halliburton Loophole or his vote against ObamaCare?

Unfortunately for this coward the voters in the revamped District are getting well acquainted with his twenty years supporting the Patriot Act, domestic wiretapping, Wall Street and hurting reproductive rights, LGBT citizens and homeowners.  If I had that record I couldn’t defend it either.  I’d at least have the courage to face the voters however.

Cartwright Slams Holden For Koch Money

The PA-17 race heated up yesterday when Matt Cartwright leveled an attack on Tim Holden for accepting campaign contributions from the infamous Koch Brothers.  The two billionaires finance much of the right wing infrastructure (Cato Institute, ALEC, Heritage Foundation, etc) along with campaigns against science and for extreme candidates.  You can learn about them in the new Robert Greenwald film Koch Brothers Exposed.

There are no bigger skeletons to have on your contributor list, if you’re a Democrat, than Charles and David Koch.  People avoid buying products made by their companies, among them Georgia-Pacific (paper products like toilet paper and paper plates) in order to avoid doing business with these folks.  The Cartwright disclosure is toxic for Holden, I don’t understand why he’d accept their money or how he explains this to fellow Democrats.

Of course therein lies the problem:  Tim Holden isn’t really a Democrat.  He’s an elephant in a donkey suit pretending to be a Democrat.  I was told by someone in Schuylkill County that when he was the County Sheriff he was a registered Republican but switched to run for Congress because Berks County (Democratic) was in the District.  He’s always voted like a Republican so I don’t doubt this report though I’ve seen verification of it.  No matter, I judge someone’s party affiliation by their actions, not their words.  Tim Holden can claim all he wants that he’s a Democrat but his voting record in Washington says he’s a Republican.  Cartwright went after him in this press release:

Holden Takes Money from the Worst of the Worst

He Simply Must Send the Money Back

For Immediate Release: April 11, 2012

MOOSIC, PA – As if we needed more proof.  As if his voting record didn’t say it all.  As if Tim Holden didn’t spend his entire 2010 campaign touting his conservative credentials, he made it crystal clear in 2000 ways written on a small piece of paper.  Yes, Tim Holden actually took money from the Koch Brothers.

Five minutes on Google, and any American who doesn’t want our environment destroyed, all labor laws eliminated, no limits on Wall Street traders, our judicial system in chains, and the federal government out of business so the age of robber barons can return would tell Tim Holden, “Give that money back.”

“Tim Holden has said he will begin voting more like a Democrat,” Matt Cartwright recounts from statements Mr. Holden has made since beginning his 2012 campaign.  “Well, this is his first chance to prove it.  Give the money back.  It’s that simple.  These guys want nothing less than to destroy the Democratic Party, so they can help turn the USA into their own China with no regulations, no labor laws and no legal system.  Give the money back.  And then stand before the people you seek to represent and debate the issues.”

Last week, a documentary on the Koch brothers was released a few hours after a Wisconsin newspaper exposed an FBI investigation involving the two billionaires.  The video can be seen here:  http://www.kochbrothersexposed…  Some facts:

·        Koch Industries began in the Soviet Union with engineering contracts under Joseph Stalin, and today they are worth more than $50 billion, a fortune exceeded only in America by Bill Gates.

·        Their business is among the top ten polluters in the United States.  One product they produce that has received little attention is formaldehyde.  They produced 2.2 billion pounds last year while working to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen.  (Sounds like the Halliburton loophole.  No need to wonder where they came down on that.  The same as Tim Holden.)

·        They have pledged $60 million to defeat Obama, after they began the American Energy Alliance, which is already spending millions on the same cause and after spending tens of millions trying to defeat health care reform.  (Can anyone recall which Democrat from Pennsylvania opposed this core Democratic initiative?)

Matt Cartwright is a Democrat, running for Congress in the 17th Congressional District, which now includes parts of Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Northampton Counties, as well as all of Schuylkill County. Cartwright is running for Congress to bring jobs to Northeast Pennsylvania, and make sure that corporations and wealthy Americans pay their fair share of taxes.

Cartwright Leading Holden

An internal poll conducted by the Cartwright campaign has him leading Congressman Tim Holden 42-36%.  For a twenty year incumbent to be snaring only 36% of the vote in his own Party’s primary illustrates Holden’s Blue Dog credentials after voting in lockstep with George W. Bush.  Holden’s support for the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act, FISA wiretapping, the Bush/Cheney Energy Task Force with its Halliburton Loophole and against homeowners, the Affordable Care Act and other family/worker friendly legislation has him targeted in this race.

The Cartwright campaign is blaming these poll numbers for the attack ads the Congressman has launched but this is really classic Tim Holden:  dirty, nefarious, gutter style politics.  This man is just mean as we saw two years ago when he openly threatened people’s jobs because they supported his opponent.  He’s ruthless and cutthroat and the new people in the redrawn District are getting to know the real Tim Holden.  These ads are simply his style.  This is someone who once called a constituent and began screaming at her over the wars.

The fact he is dodging debates is also nothing new.  He’ll say he’s busy in Washington even though Congress is on a two week Easter break.  He wouldn’t debate Sheila Dow-Ford either last time around and he’ll also avoid the lawyer from Scranton.  Why?  Tim Holden cannot defend his conservative, Republican voting record in a Democratic primary.  In the past his conservative District reflected his centrist positions but his new PA-17 doesn’t.  Matt Cartwright reflects a refreshing new sensibility of supporting working people and progressive values.  That’s why he’s leading.