Tim Holden

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Tim Holden
Tim Holden.jpg
U.S. House, Pennsylvania, District 17
Retired Representative
In office
January 3, 1993-January 3, 2013
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 3, 1992
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sBloomsburg University, 1980
Date of birthMarch 5, 1957
Place of birthPottsville, PA
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website

Tim Holden (b. March 5, 1957) was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Pennsylvania. Holden was first elected in 1992 by voters from Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District and served a total of ten terms, the latter five as the representative for the 17th District. Holden most recently ran for re-election in 2012, and was ousted in the Democratic primary. He was succeeded by Matt Cartwright on January 3, 2013.

In 2002, Holden beat the odds by defeating a Republican congressman for the 17th District seat, and was able to fend off GOP challengers for the remainder of his tenure. But in 2012, after redistricting, the 17th District became much more Democratic, meaning that instead of worrying about challengers from the right, Holden was faced with a strong challenge from the left. Moreover, his primary challenger was attorney Matt Cartwright, a wealthy, self-funded candidate and already well-known throughout the district.[1] Holden lost to Cartwright in the April 24 Democratic primary.

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Holden was a "centrist Democratic follower."[2]


The information about this individual is current as of when his or her last campaign ended. See anything that needs updating? Send a correction to our editors
  • 1980: Graduated from Bloomsburg State University, Bloomsburg, Pa.
  • 1985-1993: Served as sheriff of Schuylkill County, Pa.
  • 1993-Present: U.S Representative from Pennsylvania

Committee assignments

U.S. House



Political positions

Voting Record

Since his election to Congress in 1992, Holden missed 3 percent of all roll call votes. The median was 2.4 percent.[3]

A February 2012 analysis by National Journal found that out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, Holden ranked number 185 in liberal rankings. The ranking means Holden was the 185th most liberal member of the House at that time.[4]


In 2010, Holden was one of 39 Democrats in the House to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[5] Holden said he voted against the bill because of its cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and because of its taxes on health care benefits. "

Excerpt: "I do believe we need health care reform, but I think we could have done it incrementally, closing the doughnut hole in Medicare, negotiating drug prices to reduce them and eliminating lifetime caps. They intend to use the $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts to pay for the subsidies and to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. You can't do both with it. I spent a lot of time talking to providers. They're losing money on Medicare and Medicaid now. Further reductions are going to affect their ability to provide care for seniors."[6]

Foreign Policy

Holden bucked the party trend in 2002 by voting to authorize use of U.S. force in Iraq. Later, In 2007, Holden strongly opposed the troop surge. In 2011, however, Holden voted against a resolution requiring the president to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan immediately. When crisis arose in Libya in the spring of 2011, Holden voted against a resolution banning President Obama from using sending armed forces without Congressional approval.[7]

Excerpt: "My commitment to our brave men and women is unwavering. However, I disagree with deploying more than 20,000 more U.S. combat troops in Iraq. The president has consistently said that the size of the force would be determined by military leaders on the ground. Yet the two previous leaders on the ground do not support the addition of more troops. ...Our troops have done their job and performed with great courage and honor. The solution in Iraq can no longer be resolved militarily. We must win both politically and diplomatically."[8]


In 2006, Holden voted against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration. Then, in 2007, he voted in favor of extending a moratorium on offshore drilling. A year later in 2008 appeared to change his position when he told a local newspaper he wanted to "drill everywhere. I’m for offshore drilling," said Holden at the time. "It needs to be part of a multipronged approach.”[9] In 2011, he broke with party ranks by voting to allow drilling in the outer continental shelf.

Specific votes

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Holden voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. He was 1 of 172 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed in the House by a 257 - 167 vote on January 1, 2013.[10]



See also: Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District elections, 2012

Holden ran in the 2012 election for the U.S. House to represent Pennsylvania's 17th District. He lost the April 24 Democratic primary to Matt Cartwright.[11]

In 2002, Holden beat the odds by defeating a Republican congressman, and has been fending off GOP challengers ever since. But after redistricting, the 17th District became much more Democratic, meaning that instead of fending off a challenger from the right, Holden faced a strong challenge from the left. Moreover, his primary challenger and eventual successor, attorney Matt Cartwright, was already well-known throughout the district and a wealthy self-funder.[12]

In a March 30, 2012 article from The Washington Post, Holden was listed as the 6th most likely incumbent to lose his primary.[13] New territory from the redistricting process allowed Holden to gain a more Democratic district, after losing most of the most heavily Republican leaning areas of the district previously.[13] However, that new territory also drew new intra-party opposition from lawyer Matt Cartwright in the primary.[13][14]

U.S. House, Pennsylvania, District 17 Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMatt Cartwright 57.1% 33,255
Tim Holden Incumbent 42.9% 24,953
Total Votes 58,208


"Holden campaign ad"

In March 2012, the Holden campaign purchased an $85,000 television ad buy. The 30-second ad emphasized Holden's record of supporting American troops and protecting seniors.[15]

On April 4, 2012, Holden released his first negative campaign ad against opponent Matt Cartwright.[16]

"Holden negative campaign ad"

Holden also released a another negative ad that attacked Cartwright's wealth.[17]



  • Former PA Gov Ed Rendell (D)[18]
  • PA Sen. Bob Casey (D)[19]
  • Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty
  • Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton
  • Easton Mayor Sal Panto
  • Luzerne County Democratic Committee[20]


Holden was targeted for defeat by the Campaign for Primary Accountability. On April 6, the group launched a $70,000 ad buy with a negative ad tying Holden to Wall Street.[21] A Holden spokesman said the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which spent $200,000 in the race, contributed to Holden's loss to Matt Cartwright in the primary.[22]

"Who Does Congressman Tim Holden Look out for?"

Holden was also targeted by the Blue America PAC. The group bought billboard space to criticize Holden for supporting weakened regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."[23]

Holden was also targeted by the environmental group, League of Conservation Voters. The group purchased $230,000 worth of ad time against Holden. The 30-second TV ad compared Holden to former President George W. Bush on energy policy. "Congressman Tim Holden voted for Bush's energy plan that gave billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies," said the ad's narrator. "But Congressman Holden voted against President Obama's plan to increase funding for clean energy."[24]

"Say 'No' to Tim Holden"

Full history


2012 Election

A Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies internal Cartwright poll, conducted April 2-5, 2012, showed Cartwright with a single-digit lead over incumbent Rep. Holden.[31]

Pennsylvania's Congressional District 17, 2012
Poll Tim Holden (D) Matt Cartwright (D)Margin of ErrorSample Size
(April 2-5, 2012)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaign donors

Throughout his 20 year career in the House, Holden raised more than $500,000 each from Building Trade Unions, Industrial Unions, and Transportation Unions.[32]

As of 2012, Holden's top three contributors were the PMA Group, which gave $102,075; Carpenters & Joiners Union, which gave $97,950; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which contributed $94,325.[33]


Holden won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. During that re-election cycle, Holden's campaign committee raised a total of $1,363,850 and spent $1,864,924.[34]

His top 5 contributors between 2009-2010 were:


Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Holden paid his congressional staff a total of $970,964 in 2011. Overall, Pennsylvania ranked 34th in average salary for representative staff. The average U.S. House of Representatives congressional staff was paid $954,912.20 in fiscal year 2011.[35]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, Holden's net worth as of 2010 was estimated between $290,020 to $804,000. That averages to $547,010 which was lower than the average net worth of Democratic representatives in 2010 of $4,465,875.[36]

Voting with party

Tim Holden voted with the Democratic Party 71.1% of the time, which ranked 184 among the 192 House Democratic members as of December 2011.[37]


Tim Holden is married to Gwen.

External links


  1. Roll Call "Redistricting Makes Blue Dog Holden an Underdog" Accessed April 22, 2012
  2. GovTrack, "Holden" Accessed May 25, 2012
  3. govtrack.us "Rep. Tim Holden" Accessed April 7, 2012
  4. National Journal "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House" Accessed March 25, 2012
  5. Pennlive.com "After voting against health care reform, U.S. Rep. Tim Holden says legislation needs work" Accessed March 25, 2012
  6. readingeagle.com "Rep. Tim Holden says cuts in Medicare and Medicaid convinced him to vote no" Accessed March 25, 2012
  7. On the Issues "War and Peace" Accessed March 25, 2012
  8. Youtube "Iraq Troop Surge Debate : Tim Holden - Anti Surge" Accessed March 25, 2012
  9. Politico, "Dems yielding to pressure on drilling" Accessed March 25, 2012
  10. U.S. House, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  11. Pennsylvania Department of State "2012 General Primary Unofficial Returns," April 24, 2012
  12. Roll Call "Redistricting Makes Blue Dog Holden an Underdog" Accessed April 22, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 The Washingotn Post "The next Jean Schmidt? The top 10 House incumbents who could lose their primaries" Accessed April 1, 2012
  14. Pennsylvania Dept of State "2012 Official Primary Results"
  15. The Morning Call "Ad wars begin for Rep. Holden and his primary foe" Accessed March 25, 2012
  16. PoliticsPA "Holden Ad Blasts Cartwright Over ‘Kids for Cash’ " Accessed April 6, 2012
  17. PoliticsPA "New Holden Ad Dings Cartwright’s Wealth " Accessed April 7, 2012
  18. PoliticsPA "Rendell Backs Holden" Accessed April 22, 2012
  19. citizensvoice.com "Holden piles up endorsements in 17th Congressional District race" Accessed April 22, 2012
  20. PoliticsPA "Luzerne Dems Back Holden, Vinsko" Accessed March 25, 2012
  21. PoliticsPA "Super PAC Launches Anti-Holden Ad" Accessed April 7, 2012
  22. Wall Street Journal blog "Anti-Incumbent Super PAC Claims a Win in Pennsylvania," April 25, 2012
  23. The Borys Blog Accessed April 7, 2012
  24. Lehigh Morning Call "League of Conservation Voters targets Congressman Tim Holden" Accessed April 21, 2012
  25. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  26. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008," accessed March 28, 2013
  27. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  28. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2004," accessed March 28, 2013
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  30. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2000," accessed March 28, 2013
  31. PoliticsPA "Cartwright Poll: Cartwright Leads Holden 42-36" Accessed April 9, 2012
  32. opensecrets.org "Top Industries" Accessed April 7, 2012
  33. opensecrets.org Accessed April 21, 2012
  34. Open Secrets, "Tim Holden 2010 Election Cycle," Accessed November 16, 2011
  35. LegiStorm, "Tim Holden," Accessed September 24, 2012
  36. OpenSecrets.org, "Tim Holden (D-Pa), 2010," Accessed September 24, 2012
  37. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Gus Yatron
U.S. House of Representatives - Pennsylvania District 6
Succeeded by
Jim Gerlach
Preceded by
George Gekas
U.S. House of Representatives - Pennsylvania District 17
Succeeded by