Democratic Rep. Tim Holden has generally bested opponents in previous elections without a lot of fanfare. This year, Democrats in Republican-favored districts are in danger, but Holden, a Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, may not be in a great deal of trouble from Republican Dave Argall in a race that leans Democrat.
Candidates for Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill counties. It includes Harrisburg and the cities of Pottsville, Hershey, and Lebanon. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Tim Holden
Political experience: Holden has represented the 17th District since 1993. Holden served as sheriff of Schuylkill County from 1985 to 1992. He has also served as the sergeant-at-arms for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He is a member of the following committees and subcommittees: Agriculture Committee; Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee; ranking member on the Conservation, Credit, Rural Development, and Research Subcommittee; Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; subcommittees on Highways and Transit and Aviation; and Resources Committee.
Professional experience: After earning his license as an insurance broker in 1983 and as a real estate agent in 1980, Holden worked for his family business. He has also been a probation officer.
Key issues: According to his website, Holden is a supporter of providing rural communities, such as those found in his district, with economic opportunities through infrastructure, including roads and communications upgrades. He supports the Second Amendment.
Endorsements: Holden has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, PA Building & Construction Trades Council, FOP Philip C. Melley Memorial Lodge, FOP Keystone Lodge 41, Central PA Building & Construction Trades, AFSCME District Councils 89 & 90 and Teamsters Local 429.
Chances of maintaining his seat: Early on, Holden was thought to be in trouble given the anti-incumbency mood this season. But his votes against health care reform and the TARP bill have probably helped him maintain his popularity, despite voting for the stimulus bill. He is currently favored to win as he is respected for his past work as a sheriff and his centrist voting record.
Candidate: Dave Argall
Political experience: Argall is a state senator from the 29th District in Pennsylvania. He has previously served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Professional experience: Argall teaches state government and leadership studies at Penn State-Harrisburg.
Key issues: Argall says he feels debt and deficits are a major concern, threatening the financial future and security of American children and grandchildren.
Another threat to out nation’s security, as Argall states on his website, is the threat of rogue nations having access to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. He believes our strong friendship with Israel is essential to national security, while supporting democratic movements in countries like Iran is equally important.
On jobs and other economic issues, Argall says it’s up to small business and the private sector to create jobs — not the government, bureaucrats and red tape.
Endorsements: Argall has scored endorsements from the Schuylkill County Republican Committee, Independence Hall Tea Party and the Eagle Forum PAC 2010.
Chances of unseating Tim Holden: Argall was hurt early out of the election by his 2005 vote for a pay raise in the Pennsylvania state senate, as reported by PoliticsPA.com. The race is likely to be close, but perhaps not close enough to unseat Holden who remains favored to win.
Key Differences between Dave Argall and Tim Holden
Jobs: Holden is a Blue Dog Democrat and supports tax cuts to build jobs. He is for a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility. He is against China’s status as the United States’ most favored nation in trade, NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. He says these deals cut into American jobs. Argall wants to cut red tape and create an environment of less government intervention to spur job growth.
Health care: Holden wants health care reform that creates more affordable access, but voted against the Democrat’s health reform bill. Argall would like to see individuals receive the same tax benefits from health insurance in the same way businesses do, would like insurance to be portable across state lines and wants small businesses to be able to band to together to buy insurance at cheaper rates.
Seniors: Argall wants to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and opposes cutting benefits. He contends that the recent health care reform cut Medicare by $500 billion and taxes seniors’ benefits. Holden also wants to protect Medicare and Social Security, noting he’d like real Medicare prescription-drug reform and that he’s against Social Security privatization.
Pennsylvania‘s 17th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Pennsylvania 17th District lies within the center of the state and includes Harrisburg, Hershey, Pottsville and Lebanon.
2008 results: Holden earned 63.7 percent to Republican Toni Gilhooley’s 36.3 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 85.1 percent of the district is white, 7.6 percent black, 4.6 percent Hispanic, 1.3 percent Asian and 0.1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Pennsylvania 17th District a rating of R+6, giving Republican voters an edge in this district.