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Two Blue Dogs Defeated in Pennsylvania Primaries

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This article cross-posted from The Nation


Two conservative Democratic congressman who aligned with Republicans during last year's budget fights and broke to the right on a host of other issues were defeated in primary contests Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

Congressmen Tim Holden and Jason Altmire, both members of the conservative "Blue Dog Coalition," were swept out of office by Democratic primary voters who opted for candidates who were more clearly critical of corporate abuses and right-wing policies.

One thing that distinguished Holden and Altmire was their support for the Republican balanced-budget amendment in 2011--a vote that put them at odds with the vast majority of Democrats in Congress. The GOP proposal sought to make deep cuts in Medicare funding and in support for education and healthcare initiatives.

Holden was defeated by northeastern Pennsylvania trial lawyer Matt Cartwright, a proud "Roosevelt Democrat" who placed himself in Paul Wellstone's "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." Cartwright ran with strong support from the League of Conservation Voters and other groups that objected to the incumbent's following of the corporate line on environmental issues such as fracking. While Holden, the dean of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, cast a critical vote against the Democrat's healthcare reform proposal, his challenger's campaign declared: "Matt would have supported President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. He remains dissatisfied, however, that it did not go far enough to expand health care coverage for more Americans and hold insurance companies more accountable for what they charge families."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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