Voters in Schuylkill County will be going to the polling places in next Tuesday's general election for the first time to select their representative for the U.S. Congress, who is not a native of the county, which was brought about by the defeat of incumbent Congressman Tim Holden.
Holden was defeated in the May Democratic primary after serving 10 terms.
The voters will be selecting between Laureen Cummings, a nurse and small business owner from Old Forge, and Matthew A. Cartwright, a prominent Scranton based attorney who resides in Moosic.
Cummings is a Republican and Cartwright is a Democrat, who surprised many by defeating Holden. The reconfiguration of the 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Schuylkill County, and parts of Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, and Northampton counties, was the major reason for Holden's defeat. Ironically, the former 17th district majority registered voters were Republicans but in the realigned district the Democrats now hold the majority which was suppose to strengthen Holden's hold on the district.
The two candidates have one thing in common. This is their first political venture and neither one has strong ties to their political parties. They decided on their own to run and were not handpicked by party bosses. The defeat of Holden caught both parties in the county by surprise.
The county Republicans for the first time did not field a candidate against Holden after suffering defeat after defeat and seeing their strongest candidates go down in flames as Holden had a large following of Republicans along with the Democrats to continue to win big. Also, when the district was realigned the county Democrats were under the impression the Democrats in the newly added counties would support Holden but Cartwright chose on his own to become the candidate and ran a vigorous campaign which overcame the Democratic vote in Schuylkill County.
When Cummings announced as a candidate the county Republicans embraced her and offered no opposition.
Three candidates are seeking the U.S Senate seat. Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr., of Scranton, is being opposed by Republican Tom Smith, of Armstrong County, and Libertarian Rayburn Douglas Smith, Emlenton, Clarion County.