Morning Call Introduces Holden To His New Voters: "Bush Could Count On Holden"
After Republicans in the state legislature had finished gerrymandering up the state, Holden may have breathed a sigh of relief... for a few minutes. The good news: "his" district is bright blue instead of the deep blood-red it's been in the past. The bad news: his voting record fits the old district, not the new one. And less than a third of the voters in the new district have Holden as an incumbents. He got so panicked when a prominent Lackawanna attorney-- and progressive-- Matt Cartwright, challenged him in a primary that he called on sleazy lobbyists and sleazy Steny Hoyer (his real constituency) to bolster him. So Hoyer and AT&T briber-in-chief, Mark Schwayder, trudged up to Easton to tell the locals Holden is their boy. He certain is. He was also George Bush's boy.
One of the most influential newspapers in PA-17, Allentown's Morning Call, introduced Lehigh Valley voters to Holden with this headline from 2002: More often than not, Bush could count on Holden. Reporter Jeff Miller got that right. But, even more than Bush, Boehner and Cantor have been able to count on Holden. When you tally up all the crucial roll call votes taken since Obama was elected, Holden voted against the progressive position 64% of the time. Only 10 Democrats-- all, like Holden, sleazy, bought-and-paid-for Blue Dogs-- have voted more frequently with the Republicans on crucial, substantive matters. That kind of voting record may be fine for rural Oklahoma, for Georgia or Utah, but it doesn't work for Democratic primary voters in NEPA or the Lehigh Valley. Holden always played well in Lebanon and Perry counties (which, respectively, gave McCain 59% and 66%) but how will that reactionary voting record do in Lackawanna and Monroe counties (where McCain scored 37% and 41%)? Miller, writing in 2002, explained that there were even two Republicans in the Pennsylvania delegation who were less supportive of Bush than Holden!
Democratic Rep. Tim Holden didn't have to move to the right to defeat Republican Rep. George Gekas this year in the GOP-heavy 17th Congressional District.
He was already there.
For the second year in a row, Holden voted with President Bush more than any other Democratic member of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation.
Holden sided with Bush on 60 percent of the 209 House votes in which the president staked a position, according to a new study by Congressional Quarterly, an authoritative guide to Congress.
And Morning Call readers over the years have heard about Holden's reactionary politics at other points as well. Voters in Lebanon County may have been happy that he's an anti-Choice fanatic and always votes against women's Choice and even against contraception, and that he voted against health care reform. But up north, among Democratic primary voters? Matt Cartwright has a lot of ammunition. This was from a Morning Call report in 2009.
Most area lawmakers offered their constituents few surprises in the weekend's big health care vote in the U.S. House, voting along party lines on the Democratic reform proposal.
The one exception: U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-17th District.
The Democrat, representing a politically conservative central Pennsylvania district that also covers Schuylkill and northern Berks counties, was one of just 39 in his party to join Republicans in opposing the bill.
Holden said Monday he opposed the Democratic plan because it does not explicitly limit publicly funded health care to U.S. citizens, and its efforts to control Medicare and Medicaid costs would damage a variety of health care providers in his district.
He also didn't want to vote for an unrealistically liberal bill that was crafted to be a starting point in future talks with the more conservative Senate.
"We didn't want to be pawns in this chess game," Holden said.
Holden's vote Saturday against the Democratic plan, which passed 220-215, shouldn't surprise anyone, Muhlenberg College political scientist Christopher Borick said.
"It's a Republican-leaning district, and among the Democrats who are in that district, they are conservative Democrats," Borick said. "That's just bread and butter. He can never afford to look too far out of touch for that district, and on this one he's not looking to take any chances."
Holden, who said he felt little pressure from party leaders, told Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland in two meetings early last week that he would vote no on the House version. "The people who felt the pressure were the ones who hadn't decided," he said.
Reportedly Hoyer asked Holden to listen to this song while he made a few calls to lobbyists on his behalf: