Matt Cartwright worked like hell. On election day, he was making calls personally asking for people to come out and vote for him. My dad got a call, and it tipped his vote. What can you say? While he worked the ground as hard as you can, Holden went around and got the endorsements of the elected officials, the Mayors, the legislators, and the party committees. Not much help in the end. Energy beats power, if the energy has the money to compete. Guess what Matt Cartwright made sure to have?
Holden was probably doomed by the district too. The overwhelming turnout in Lackawanna, compared to everywhere else, was apparent. Only in Carbon and Schuylkill did he have a real incumbency advantage, and there are just more Democrats in the other four counties. In short, believing he was the incumbent wasn't smart.
I guess the question I ask is, was this good? We gave up a 20 year incumbent for a freshman who's to the left of a lot of the district now on a lot of issues. He'll face both future primaries and much more difficult general election opponents in the future. The appropriations abilities of a veteran lawmaker were given up for a little better voting record. Holden's a 75% vote this Congress, but he was a 95% vote at times in other ones. Were the few bad votes worth the inability to get roads and bridges built, economic development dollars in, and administration action on issues and problems that come up in the district?
Some would say that the loss of another "Blue Dog" is good. I disagree. When you replace a 75% Democrat with a 85% Republican (about the going rate of party loyalty on both sides amongst "moderates" today), you are talking about a wide ranging different, not similar votes. Sure, Cartwright will beat Cummings in the fall, and he'll be in for the next two years, which is great, but you can basically bet now that Dave Argall or Mario Scavello will be waiting in 2014, in a very different climate. Is not having a Democrat better than having a Blue Dog? I would strongly disagree. I would also dispute the notion that "Blue Dogs" are almost Republicans. Charlie Dent is a "moderate" in today's Congress, and is an 85% Republican vote, or a 15% Democratic one. That's 60% less than Holden. Similar, right?
In short, I'm troubled that raw emotion now drives primary electorates. I'm as liberal as anyone on most issues, and proudly. Strategy and pragmatism drive my politics though. They should drive all activists, but they don't. I worry that won't be a real problem for both the party and the country in the future.