Melissa Hart (politician)

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Melissa Hart
MelissaHartCongress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2001–January 3, 2007
Preceded by Ron Klink
Succeeded by Jason Altmire
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 40th district
In office
January 1, 1991–January 2, 2001[1]
Preceded by John Regoli
Succeeded by Jane Orie
Personal details
Born (1962-04-04) April 4, 1962 (age 52)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Single
Residence Bradford Woods, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Washington and Jefferson College
University of Pittsburgh
Occupation attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Melissa A. Hart (born April 4, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician. She was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007, representing Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district. She was the first Republican woman to represent Pennsylvania at the federal level.[2] Prior to her service in Congress, Hart served in the Pennsylvania Senate, where she chaired the finance committee.

In the 2006 midterm elections, Hart lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Jason Altmire. She challenged Altmire again in the 2008 election, but was defeated again, by a wider margin than in 2006.

Biography and political views[edit]

Hart is an Italian-American, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[3] She graduated from North Allegheny High School. While at Washington and Jefferson College, she earned a degree in business and German, intending to pursue a career in international business.[4] While there, she and some friends founded the college's College Republicans club.[4] After an internship with a local judge, she decided to attend law school.[4]

She entered the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. After graduation and being admitted to the bar, Hart joined a major Pittsburgh law firm. She specialized in real estate law.[4]

Hart has served on the Washington & Jefferson College Board of Trustees.[5]

She is Roman Catholic and holds Pro- Life views. She is opposed to federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. In January 2006 she addressed a pro-life rally in Washington, D.C., urging young pro-lifers to enter public service.

Political career[edit]

In November 2000 Hart was elected to the House of Representatives from the Fourth District of the State of Pennsylvania, winning an open seat previously held by a Democrat. She had served as a senator in the Pennsylvania Senate from 1991 to 2000. She was later appointed co-chair of the Platform Committee for the 2004 Republican National Convention.[6]

She also claimed that she was the person behind renaming Pittsburgh's highway system of I-279S/US-22/30W/PA-60N into a new name of I-376W which cost Pennsylvania taxpayers 14.8 million in taxpayer dollars just to change the signs on that route.[citation needed]

Early in Hart's first term, she became the subject of an embarrassing controversy for remarks made to a colleague in the House. New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich described the exchange: "Congressional staff members related an incident in 2001, in which they recalled the freshman Representative Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania, who is white, admonishing Representative Julia Carson, who is black, that the elevator they were riding on was members-only. Ms. Carson, of Indiana, proceeded to introduce herself to her new colleague, offense taken."[7]

In 2002 Hart's campaign website was praised as being among the best of the election cycle.[8]

Hart co-chaired the Republican Party platform of 2004. In 2005 she was appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Hart played an active role in the race for majority leader in early 2006. As a top whip for the successful candidacy of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), she worked to secure votes for him in the race. She was one of a handful of GOP members who called for a full set of new leadership elections for whip, conference chair, and other offices below the majority leader position, but that motion narrowly failed the day before the majority leader race. Had this motion passed, Hart may have challenged Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) for House Republican Conference Chairman, the No. 4 leadership spot.

In December 2002 Hart was a candidate for Conference Vice-Chair, the No. 5 leadership spot, but lost to Jack Kingston (R-GA). In a 2002 PoliticsPA feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, Hart was named amongst those "Most Likely to Succeed."[9]

2006 election[edit]

As the 2006 campaign season approached, Hart's congressional seat was not considered vulnerable, and Hart was described in media accounts as a "rising star" in Republican politics, who had never lost an election and who had demonstrated a unique ability to appeal to non-conservative voters even while maintaining a generally conservative voting record.[10] In late 2005, her predecessor in the House of Representatives, Democrat Ron Klink, publicly mulled over the possibility of challenging Hart for his old seat. However, in late December, Klink announced that he would not run. Jason Altmire, a 38-year-old health care executive and political unknown (and, by coincidence, a neighbor of Hart's brother,[11]) ultimately won the Democratic nomination for the seat.

For most of 2006, the Altmire campaign was viewed as a long shot, but as the campaign wound down his poll numbers surged and Hart's dropped. An October Susquehanna poll showed Hart with what was then a surprisingly narrow 46%-42% lead over Altmire.[12] Altmire's continued to climb as Hart's stalled, and five days before the November 7, 2006 election, the Cook Political Report altered its rating of the race from "Likely Republican" to "Toss up." [13]

On Election Day, Altmire was elected by a margin of 52%-48%.[14]

Hart's was part of a generalized Republican meltdown in Pennsylvania that saw the defeat of three other incumbent Republican members of Congress, Democratic victories for the U. S. Senate and governor, and Democratic gains in the state legislature.

Following the election, she returned to the law firm Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch, where she had worked before being elected to Congress.[15] She returned to her specialization of "general practice and business development."[15]

2008 election[edit]

Hart announced in July 2007 that she would run against Altmire in 2008. Despite speculation that retired athlete and former Gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann would run for the seat,[16] Hart was unopposed for the Republican nomination.[17] In the general election, she was again defeated by Altmire, this time by a much larger margin.

Later career[edit]

In July 2010, Hart confirmed that an illegally parked car in the Congressional Parking Garage was hers. The car had been abandoned there for four years.[18]

Hart currently chairs government relations at Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch Law Firm.[19]

Hart sought to return to the Pennsylvania Senate in a 2012 special election, but lost the Republican primary to state Representative Randy Vulakovich. [20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cox, Harold (2004). "Pennsylvania Senate - 2001-2002". Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University. 
  2. ^ Kathryn E. Granahan represented Pennsylvania in the US House of Representatives (1956-1963) as a Democrat.
  3. ^ Order Sons of Italy in America
  4. ^ a b c d "Hart, Melissa". Education for a Lifetime. Washington & Jefferson College. Archived from the original on 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  5. ^ "W&J: Board of Trustees". W&J College Website. Washington & Jefferson College. 
  6. ^ Remarks by The Honorable Melissa Hart, Co-Chair of the 2004 Platform Committee, as Prepared for Delivery at the 2004 Republican National Convention August 30, 2004
  7. ^ Washington Traffic Jam? Senators-Only Elevator
  8. ^ Drulis, Michael (2002). "Best & Worst Websites". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. Archived from the original on 2002-10-17. 
  9. ^ "Keystone State Yearbook Committee". PoliticsPA. 2001. Archived from the original on 2002-08-31. 
  10. ^ Hart GOP's rising star Brown, David M. Pittsburgh Tribune Review September 11, 2005
  11. ^ http://www.politicspa.com/FEATURES/Interviews/hart.htm
  12. ^ kdka.com - New Poll Shows Hart-Altmire Race Is A Dead-Heat
  13. ^ http://www.coldheartedtruth.com/index.php/Senate/2006/10/06/latest_house_polling_chart_2?template=popup
  14. ^ "CNN.com - Elections 2006". CNN. 
  15. ^ a b Brown, David M. (June 27, 2007). "Hart returns to Pittsburgh law firm". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ "88 In '08?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 12, 2007. 
  17. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Unofficial List of Candidates
  18. ^ "Former Congresswoman Abandons Car in Congressional Garage". ABC News. July 22, 2010. 
  19. ^ http://www.kwbhlaw.com/news/107/56/Melissa-Hart-Hosts-PCNC-s-NightTalk-Get-to-the-Point
  20. ^ McNulty, Timothy (June 17, 2012). "Vulakovich beats Hart for run at Orie's seat". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ronald Klink
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district

2001–2007
Succeeded by
Jason Altmire
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
John Regoli
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 40th District
1991–2001
Succeeded by
Jane Orie