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In the 2010 cycle Blue America backed Sheila Dow-Ford against reactionary Pennsylvania Blue Dog Tim Holden. 2010 was a conservative year and Holden won. Since then, he has voted (on crucial roll calls) with the Democrats 31.96% of the time. That's right-- Holden has backed the right-wing agenda espoused by Cantor and Boehner 68% of the time. But something else has happened since 2010-- PA-17 was redrawn and is now a solidly blue district, with voters who back the kinds of progressive solutions to the problems conservatives like Holden have created in this country.

Holden was happy to get a bluer district, but the result, predictably, is a primary challenge from a real Democrat who stands for progressive values and principles. This year that candidate is Matt Cartwright, and Tuesday he announced his candidacy. Yesterday I spoke with Sheila-- who went to the University of Pennsylvania Law School with Matt-- and she is enthusiastic to see someone of his caliber challenge Holden... and on exactly the same issues she went to bat for two years ago. Tuesday, Matt's son Jack, a college freshman, made the case for his dad here at DWT. I had already spoken with Matt a few weeks earlier because of his opposition to SOPA. Holden was one of the more corrupt of the right-wing Blue Dogs who co-sponsored the Internet-stifling legislation. At the time Matt took off from his single-minded campaign theme of "jobs, jobs, jobs," to talk to me about SOPA:

In my opinion, SOPA is a bill so riddled with unconstitutional infringements on free speech and unconstitutionally vague criminalization of conduct that it is hard to believe its authors ever even read the one document that they swore to protect and defend.

That probably is a giveaway that Matt is an attorney, an attorney who takes the law very seriously. In fact, when I asked him what originally inspired him to run, he mentioned Glenn Greenwald's new book on civil liberties, With Liberty And Justice For Some.

If I still lived in Stroudsburg, I would be able to vote for Matt against Holden. Instead, I was happy to add Matt to the Blue America page dedicated to replacing right-wing Blue Dogs with progressives. (Please hit that link and consider helping Matt with a contribution. The primary is in April, and he needs all the help he can get-- and fast.)

The new district has moved north and east and now includes all of Schuylkill County and parts of Carbon, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe and Northampton Counties, including the solidly Democratic areas of Lackawana and Luzerne. There are about 89,000 likely voters, people who come out for primaries whether there is a marquee fight or not. Of these, about 33,000 come from Lackawanna (Matt's home county), 17,000 from Luzerne (where Matt is very well known for his work as a public service lawyer on TV), 12,000 from Schuylkill (Holden's home county), and the remaining 26,000 are split among Monroe, Northampton and Carbon. It's important to remember that the only part of the new district that was in Holden’s old district is his home county, Schuylkill, so that means he's an actual incumbent in only 14% of the district-- and 86% of the district is new to him. And the new district is 56% registered Dems and 33% registered Republicans.
In his announcement speech Tuesday, this is what Matt had to say about the newly created district:
These are places where the people believe in the same values that I’ve lived by my entire life. These are the boroughs, townships, and cities where people live who I have represented and who I have fought for. These are the places that have made me who I am today; this is a new beginning, a new chance to be represented in Congress by someone who is going to go to Washington with just one plan, one priority, and one promise. To fight for the middle class.

Let's pick up from there and listen to how Matt introduced himself to the people he hopes will chose him over a career politician who almost always sides with corporate interests against workers, consumers and ordinary Pennsylvania families:
My name is Matt Cartwright and I am running to be the Democratic nominee for Congress. I am running to represent the middle class that is the heart and soul of the new Pennsylvania 17th Congressional District.

This is a new beginning, a new chance for the working families of this district to elect someone who truly represents them and their interests… not the interests of the banking industry, the credit card companies, the insurance industry, the oil and gas industry, or Wall Street investment firms.

This is a new beginning, a new chance for working families to have a representative in Washington who will vote to put the economic well-being of the middle class first. This is your chance to elect a representative who will vote for legislation that benefits the middle class… and not the corporate special interests that fund his congressional campaign.

Working families throughout the new 17th Congressional District, like working families all across the country, are hurting. For those that aren’t struggling with unemployment or underemployment, their incomes have been stagnant. Even as we struggle to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, large corporate profits continue to go up, while middle class incomes go nowhere.

Why? Because incumbent congressmen continue to support policies and cast votes that put corporate profits over people. For too long, their priority has just been to get reelected, to protect their own jobs, so they wind up representing the deep pockets of the special interests instead of the people. It is wrong and it has to stop.

Working families in the new 17th Congressional District do not need a representative who votes against legislation making Wall Street and the big banks accountable for how they spend taxpayer money meant to prevent the collapse of our economy.

Working families in the new 17th Congressional District do not need a representative who, while the economy is still struggling, votes against legislation that helps distressed families keep their homes.

Working families in the new 17th Congressional District do not need a representative who votes for legislation that makes it harder for struggling families to get out from under crushing credit card debt.

Working families in the new 17th Congressional District do not need a representative who votes against legislation that makes medicine and health care more accessible to seniors and young adults, that allows coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and that also includes coverage for women’s preventative health care services.

To vote against legislation ensuring that taxpayer money in the TARP funds is used to benefit the economy and the middle class instead of stuffing the pockets of Wall Street executives-- that doesn’t represent middle class values or interests of working families.

To vote for legislation that makes it harder for folks to get a second chance in life… just so the credit card companies can squeeze their last nickel from them doesn’t represent the values of the middle class or interests of working families.

To side with the big banks… who helped create the economic crisis to begin with… and vote against legislation that helps avoid more home foreclosures doesn’t represent middle class values or interests of our working families.

To vote with big health care insurance companies and HMOs, doesn’t the interest of our seniors, young adults, people with pre-existing conditions and women.

I will stand up and fight for the middle class values and the interests of our working families.

There is an overwhelming feeling here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, that Congress is broken. When you look at the constant dysfunction, bickering and failure to act in Congress, it’s hard not to agree with that. But when a handful of representatives from the Democratic Party turn their backs on the middle class, and start voting like Wall Street Republicans, something is really wrong. Something even more fundamental is broken.

What’s broken is their promise to protect the middle class instead of the profits of big banks…or the oil & gas companies… or Wall Street. What’s broken is their promise to vote for bills that benefit the middle class and not loopholes that benefit special interests. What’s broken is their pledge to make decisions based on what’s best for the average family and not what’s best for the lobbyists contributing to their campaign funds. The pact of faith between our incumbent representatives and the people they represent is what is broken.

But I say to you, we can fix what’s broken. We don’t have to keep electing the same representatives whose voting records go against the values and interests of the middle class.

I’ve spent the last 24 years fighting for average people against huge corporations and insurance companies… fighting for middle class people against corporate greed… fighting for the most vulnerable people in our society against uncaring insurance companies… fighting for small business people victimized by predatory banks, and big business bullies.

And I’ve done this fighting right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This is all I do… all I’ve ever done. Fighting for what’s right. Fighting for the average person against those who are bigger and more powerful.

Now, this is my first run for public office. I may never have run in an election before, but I have won in the courtroom for families and small businesses I’ve represented over the years.

And I’m here to tell you-- I will bring that same fight to Congress on behalf of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s middle class.

We may start out as the underdog, I understand that the Republican majority in Harrisburg has already assigned us a Congressman, and they’re calling him the incumbent. It’s no easy task to defeat an incumbent. But I will say to you now: Our fight may start out as David vs. Goliath, but I will never give up and I will never sell out. I will work tirelessly to make sure that this district understands that, and on April 24th, we’re going to take the Democratic nomination. In November, we’re going to take this Congressional seat.

As a Congressman I won’t need campaign donations from special interest groups to know what the right thing to do is. I will already know what the right thing to do is.

As a Congressman I will not apologize for being a Democrat. As a Congressman I will not forget that the Democratic Party is the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR considered his solemn duty to the economic royalist on behalf of the everyday citizens of this country.

I will fight to ensure that when taxpayer dollars are spent, they are spent to help working families first. I will fight to help working families keep their homes from foreclosure. I will fight to protect the environment. I will fight to help working families get a fair deal from banks and credit card companies. I will fight for economic policies that increase the incomes of working families first.

I will not break the pact of faith between representatives and the people they represent.

And so together, let’s seize this new beginning, this new chance for working families. Let’s seize this moment to begin changing the balance of power in Congress. Let’s elect a Democratic representative who will vote the voice of the people who live in his district… and not the voice of lobbyists speaking for HMOs, big banks, big business and Wall Street.

Let’s elect a Democratic congressman who votes like a Democrat. Let’s elect a Democratic Congressman from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

I’m Matt Cartwright and I will be the new Democratic champion of the middle class in Congress.


You can't possibly have read that and not understood why Blue America is so enthusiastic about helping elect Matt Cartwright. Again, if you can, please consider contributing to his campaign.
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