Tim Holden

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Tim Holden
File:Tim Holden.jpg
Member of the Pennsylvania
Liquor Control Board
Assumed office
November 13, 2013
Appointed by Tom Corbett
Preceded by P.J. Stapleton, III
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 17th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by George Gekas
Succeeded by Matthew Cartwright
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Gus Yatron
Succeeded by Jim Gerlach
Personal details
Born (1957-03-05) March 5, 1957 (age 61)
St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Gwen Holden
Residence St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Bloomsburg University
Occupation real estate/insurance agent
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

Thomas Timothy "Tim" Holden (born March 5, 1957) is the former U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district, who served in Congress from 1993 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Holden was the dean of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation during the 112th United States Congress.[1] On April 24, 2012, Holden was defeated in the Democratic primary, to the surprise of many Democrats, in his attempt to seek re-election.[2] He is now chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Early life, education, and early career

Holden graduated from St. Clair Area High School in 1975. In 1980, he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He became a licensed real estate agent, and later an insurance broker in 1983. He has worked as a probation officer and as Sergeant-at-Arms for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and was the sheriff of Schuylkill County.[citation needed] He identified with many ordinary working people in his district.

U.S. House of Representatives


In the 1990s, he represented Pennsylvania's 6th congressional district based in Reading and including Berks and Schuylkill counties. The district was populated mostly by Reagan Democrats who were still willing to vote Republican in most elections (it voted for George H. W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000), but Holden was re-elected four times without serious opposition.


After redistricting, incumbent Democrat U.S. Congressman Gus Yatron decided to retire. In the Democratic primary, Holden defeated the Mayor of Reading, Pennsylvania, Warren Haggerty, and John Reusing 39%-32%-28%.[3] In the general election, he defeated Republican nominee John E. Jones III, a local government solicitor, 52%-48%.[4]


Holden won re-election to a second term by defeating Republican nominee Fred Levering 57%-43%.[5]


Holden won re-election to a third term by defeating Republican nominee Christian Leinbach, a staffer to U.S. Senator Rick Santorum,[6] 59%-41%.[7]


Holden won re-election to a fourth term by defeating Republican nominee John Meckley 61%-39%.[8]


Holden won re-election to a fifth term by defeating Republican nominee Thomas Kopel 66%-34%.[9]

File:17th Congressional District.png
The previously make-up of the 17th Congressional District from 2003, which has been represented by Congressman Tim Holden.

Pennsylvania lost two districts after the 2000 United States Census. The Republican-controlled General Assembly dismantled the 6th, splitting its territory among three other districts. The legislature considered placing Holden's home in Schuylkill County in the 11th District, a heavily Democratic area in northeastern Pennsylvania. This would have forced a primary matchup with Paul Kanjorski, an eight-term Democrat who was slightly more liberal than Holden. Eventually, it moved Holden's home to the Republican-leaning Harrisburg-based 17th District, represented by 10-term Republican George Gekas.[10]

On paper, the redrawn 17th appeared to so heavily favor Gekas that it appeared unwinnable for a Democrat, even one as conservative as Holden. To some, it was blatant gerrymandering to force Holden into retirement. Gekas retained 60% of his former territory, and George W. Bush had carried the newly drawn district with 57% of the vote in 2000.[11] However, to the surprise of many observers, Holden did not retire, instead opting to run in a district that was 65% new to him (a small corner from the even more Republican 9th District was moved to the 17th). Gekas was forced into his first real campaign ever. Holden managed to gain endorsements from much of Gekas' old base, much to Gekas' surprise. Even Gekas' hometown paper, The Patriot-News, endorsed Holden, saying that the 17th was not the same district that elected Gekas in 1982. Gekas got another rude surprise when Holden visited African American neighborhoods such as Uptown and Allison Hill after finding out that Gekas had never set foot in these neighborhoods in his congressional career. He asked the residents of these neighborhoods not to vote for a congressman who didn't bother to visit them. In November 2002, in one of the biggest upsets in recent political history, Holden narrowly defeated Gekas.


Holden ran for re-election against Republican lawyer Scott Paterno, son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.[12] Paterno was actively supported by influential Republicans, and President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came to the district several times to support him. Nevertheless, Holden won re-election by a comfortable margin even as Bush easily carried the district.


Holden faced Republican Matthew Wertz, an Afghanistan War veteran, in the 2006. However, Wertz dropped out of the race before the general election citing personal reasons and Holden went on to easily win re-election with 65% of the total vote.[13]


In 2008, he faced Republican Toni Gilhooley, a retired Pennsylvania State Trooper and 25-year veteran of the force, whom he defeated with 64% of the vote (one percent less than the previous election).


Holden was challenged by Republican nominee, State Senator Dave Argall.[14] Unlike other Democrats in Eastern Pennsylvania like Chris Carney and Patrick Murphy, Holden won re-election, and did so with a 12 point margin, defeating Argall 56% to 44%.

Before Holden won the general election, he faced a primary challenge within his own party from political activist Sheila Dow Ford, who ran to the left of Holden, eviscerating the Congressman for voting against the Affordable Care Act in March 2010. Holden defeated Ford by a margin of 65% to 35% in the primary to regain the Democratic nomination.


Holden's district was drastically reconfigured as a result of legislative redistricting done in the Pennsylvania legislature in late 2011 following the results of the 2010 Census. While keeping most of Holden's hometown region, including St. Clair, the district lost Harrisburg and Lebanon, along with its shares of portions of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Perry counties. In their place, the legislature pushed the district well to the north and east, adding Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, and Easton, among other various towns in Luzerne County, Lackawanna County, Carbon County, Monroe County and Northampton County—territory that he did not know and that did not know him. As a result of these changes, the 17th is now considerably more Democratic than its predecessor, nearing 60 percent Democratic registration and leaving Holden vulnerable to a challenge to his left in the Democratic primary. Also, the League of Conservation Voters put Tim Holden on their "Dirty Dozen" list, targeting him for supporting then-President George W. Bush's energy policy, favoring oil production, and opposing President Obama's polices including development of clean energy.[15]

In the April 14 primary, Holden was defeated by Moosic attorney Matt Cartwright, a considerably more liberal Democrat. Holden's opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and climate change legislation are believed to have contributed to his defeat.[16] He also could not overcome the demographics of the redrawn district, which was almost 80 percent new to him.[17]


Holden was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.[18] As such, Holden is a more conservative Democrat than most of his colleagues in his party's caucus in the House of Representatives. Although he has often bucked his party's voting trend, Holden has supported Democratic priorities on a number of issues. While Holden voted with a minority of House Democrats in favor of the authorization for the use of U.S. force in Iraq in October 2002 for President George W. Bush, he strongly opposed Bush's "surge" policy in January 2007. While Holden voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative domestic policy achievement of President Barack Obama, in March 2010, he did vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by Obama, in February 2009. While Holden voted for legislation supported by President Bush that toughened bankruptcy laws and enacted the Halliburton loophole, he voted for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama, in July 2010. According to opencongreess.com, Holden has voted with the Democratic leadership in Congress 73 percent of the time in recent years. He is ranked as one of the top fifteen most conservative Democrats in the House by the National Journal.

In 2011, Rep. Holden became a co-sponsor of Bill H.R.3261 otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act.[19] Holden withdrew his co-sponsorship of SOPA on January 18, 2012.[20]

Holden represented the 6th District from 1993 until 2003, and following redistricting he represented the 17th District.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • German-American Caucus - Co-founded the Caucus with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pennsylvania)[22]
  • Congressional Arts Caucus

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Holden was nominated to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 14, 2013. He was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate on Nov. 13, 2013, to serve a four-year term. He was named chairman of the PLCB by Gov. Tom Wolf on Feb. 17, 2015.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bortner, Peter E. (2012-04-22). "Holden seeks 11th term, says he stands for hard work". Republican & Herald. Retrieved 2012-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Weisman, Jonathan. "Ten-Term Democrat Holden Loses in Pennsylvania Primary", New York Times, April 25, 2012.
  3. "PA District 06 - D Primary Race - Apr 28, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "PA District 6 Race - Nov 03, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "PA District 6 Race - Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Commissioner Leinbach's Biography". Co.berks.pa.us. 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "PA District 6 Race - Nov 05, 1996". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "PA District 6 Race - Nov 03, 1998". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "PA District 6 Race - Nov 07, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Online NewsHour: Election 2002: High Stakes". Pbs.org. 2002-08-30. Retrieved 2010-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Online NewsHour: The Pennsylvania 17th District Race". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2010-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Toland, Bill (2004-04-28). "U.S. House races: Paterno's son beats crowded field in 17th". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2010-07-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Lieberman, Brett (2007-07-04). "State police retiree plans bid for Holden's seat". Harrisburg Patriot-News. Retrieved 2007-08-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Pangonis, Dustin (2010-04-01). "'No' vote on health care costs Holden primary endorsement from AFL-CIO". Republican & Herald. Retrieved 2010-04-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Dirty Dozen: Tim Holden".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Jonathan Weisman (April 25, 2012). "2 House Democrats Defeated After Opposing Health Law". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Gibson, Keegan (2012-04-09). "Cartwright Poll: Cartwright Leads Holden 42-36". Politics Pa. Retrieved 2012-06-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Issues, Tim Holden for U.S. Congress
  19. Bill H.R.3261; GovTrack.us;
  20. "Bill Summary & Status 112th Congress (2011 - 2012) H.R.3261 Cosponsors". http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:1:./temp/~bd666m:@@@P%7C/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=112. Library of Congress. External link in |work= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Congressman Tim Holden Committee Information
  22. "In US-German relations, it's all about jobs". Deutsche Welle. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2012-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gus Yatron
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jim Gerlach
Preceded by
George Gekas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Matthew Cartwright