Beating an incumbent is a tall order. But that is what state Sen. David Argall has chosen to do attempt to unseat the incumbent congressman of the 17th Congressional District in Tuesday's General Election. The 125 polling places in Schuykill County open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Congressman Tim Holden, a Democrat, has been unbeatable over the past number of elections in a district in which the Republican Party holds the majority. Argall's task is to convince the large number of Republican voters who have backed Holden in the past that if they want a change in Congress he is their man.
Argall, 51, lives in Lake Hauto, Rush Township, and became the state senator for the 29th District in March 2009 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of state Sen. James Rhoades. Prior to that, Argall served as a state representative in the 124th district for many years.
Holden, 52, of Saint Clair, has been the Congressman for Schuylkill County and surrounding area since 1993 and prior to that was sheriff of the county from 1985 to 1992.
Argall is counting on his track record of working for jobs and economic growth while Holden prides himself on "being his own man" when voting in Congress. He did not vote for the controversial health care plan as most Democratic congressman did, but did vote for the stimulus package.
Holden has slammed Argall for the 2005 pay hike he received as a state representative and Argall has shot back that Holden had voted for four pay raises he received in Congress. Both candidates oppose major changes in social security.
"I am running for Congress because our nation is in deep trouble and the present administration and Congress are only making things worse," Argall stated in his campaigns. "Government has failed in fulfilling its basic obligation of protecting us and granting our rights and we must restore the principles of limited government, low taxes, controlled spending and a free enterprise."
Holden claims his seniority in Congress has helped gain for the state through federal spending funds for infrastructure jobs, highways and transportation and has brought in funds for many of the fire companies in his district. He believes in job training to get more people into the workforce, that national government should have a greater role in spending on education but not "micro manage" it. He also advocates a "multipronged" attack on the nation's energy problems, including development of solar and wind power.
Voters will have a stake in balancing the power in the U.S. Congress which is currently held by the Democrats. All 435 House seats are up for election nationally.
Argall is depending on voters being upset with the status quo in order to unseat the strong incumbent. One of Argall's chief campaign promises is to repeal the health care program passed by the Democratic Congress. Holden, who did not vote for the health care program, is counting on being reelected, pointing out the benefits his district has enjoyed because of his seniority on the House transportation and agricultural committees.
The 17th Congressional District includes all of Schuylkill, Lebanon and Dauphin counties and parts of Berks and Perry counties.