Matt Cartwright

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Matt Cartwright
Matt Cartwright, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Co-Chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byCheri Bustos
David Cicilline
Hakeem Jeffries
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byTim Holden
Constituency17th district (2013–2019)
8th district (2019–present)
Personal details
Matthew Alton Cartwright

(1961-05-01) May 1, 1961 (age 61)
Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Marion Munley
(m. 1985)
EducationHamilton College (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Matthew Alton Cartwright (born May 1, 1961) is an American politician and lawyer serving as the U.S. representative from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district since 2013. The district, numbered as the 17th district from 2013 through 2019, includes a large swath of northeastern Pennsylvania, anchored by Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and the Poconos. A member of the Democratic Party, Cartwright defeated 10-term incumbent Blue Dog Tim Holden, the dean of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation, in the Democratic primary on April 24, 2012, by a 57%–43% margin. Cartwright went on to defeat Republican Laureen Cummings in the general election on November 6, 2012, by a 61%–39% margin.[1] As an attorney, Cartwright previously worked at the law firm of Munley, Munley, and Cartwright.

Early life and education[edit]

Cartwright was born on May 1, 1961, in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Alton S. Cartwright and Adelaide (Igoe) Cartwright. Matt Cartwright attended Upper Canada College (Toronto), graduating in 1979, before going on to earn a magna cum laude Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Hamilton College in 1983,[2] where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Cartwright studied law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

He served two years as an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1986.[3] In 1981, Cartwright attended the London School of Economics[4] where he met his future wife, Marion Munley. After graduating from law school, both Munley and Cartwright joined the Munley family's law firm in the Scranton area.[5]

Legal career[edit]

For 25 years, Cartwright worked as an attorney and partner at Munley, Munley and Cartwright, a Scranton firm specializing in representation of automobile and truck accident victims, and consumers and small businesses in personal and business litigation.[6] He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1986 and in 2005 was further admitted to the Bar of New York. In 2008, Cartwright was inducted into the International Society of Barristers.[7]

Cartwright served from 2009 to 2012 as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice.[8] Between 2005 and 2011, Cartwright was the on-air legal analyst for The Law & You. In the segment, aired nightly as part of NBC affiliate WBRE-TV's evening newscast, he fielded viewer questions on legal matters.[9] In 2011, Cartwright co-authored the legal treatise Litigating Commercial and Business Tort Cases published by Thomson Reuters.[10]

During the 1992 presidential election, Cartwright was an elected delegate for candidate Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, representing Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district.[11][12] In 2001–2002, he served as District Governor for Rotary International District 7410, covering northeastern Pennsylvania.[13] On November 5, 2010, the Boy Scouts of America's Northeastern Pennsylvania Council presented Cartwright with its Silver Beaver Award for volunteer service to that organization.[14]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Pennsylvania Republicans, who controlled the redistricting process after the 2010 United States Census, significantly altered Holden's 17th district. The old 17th had been based in Harrisburg, but the new 17th had been pushed well to the north and east. In the process, it absorbed heavily Democratic Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, previously in the 11th district.[15] The remap significantly altered the 17th's demographics. The old 17th had been anchored in traditionally Republican territory in central Pennsylvania; in much of the district, Holden was the only elected Democrat above the county level. John McCain carried it with 51 percent of the vote. In contrast, the new 17th was anchored in northeastern Pennsylvania, which had long been the most Democratic region of the state outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Had the district existed in 2008, Barack Obama would have carried it with 56 percent of the vote.

An internal poll from Cartwright showed him up seven points against Holden, the incumbent. The new district was significantly bluer than its predecessor and was located in territory where constituents were unfamiliar with Holden. The only portion of the district that had been in the old 17th was Holden's home in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, with the majority of Democratic primary voters located in counties considered more favorable to Cartwright's candidacy.[16][17] During the primary, Cartwright described himself as being from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party"—a line often employed by Howard Dean and Paul Wellstone.[18] He was supported by, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Campaign for Primary Accountability.[19][20] Cartwright ran as a self-professed "FDR Democrat", and as an ally of President Obama on taxes and health care reform, and pledged to work with U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., also of Scranton, on regulations for safety in fracking. Cartwright also benefited in the race from endorsements from popular local public figures like State Representative Phyllis Mundy and former Scranton mayor Jimmy Connors. Holden's opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and his support of energy legislation that included the Halliburton loophole are believed to have contributed to his defeat.[21] On April 24, 2012, Cartwright defeated Holden by 57%–43% in the primary.[22]

In the November general election, Cartwright faced Republican nurse Laureen Cummings, a leader of the Scranton Tea Party. On November 6, Cartwright defeated Cummings, 61%–39% to become the district's next congressman.[23]

On January 4, 2013, Cartwright was selected by his peers to serve as a class president of the 49 new Democratic members of the 113th Congress.[24][25]


On November 4, 2014, Cartwright won a second term, defeating Republican challenger David Moylan, M.D., the elected Coroner of Schuylkill County, by 13.6 points.[26]


On November 8, 2016, Cartwright won a third term, defeating Republican challenger Matthew Connolly, a businessman from Northampton County, by seven points.[27]


In the 2016 general election, President Donald Trump won the 17th district by over 10% in the concurrent presidential election. Facing an underfunded opponent, Cartwright did not run television advertisements. That year, Cartwright won re-election by only seven points, representing his lowest margin of victory.[28][29] As a result, the National Republican Congressional Committee began to see Cartwright as potentially vulnerable, and listed him as a top target. In response, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included him on its "frontline" list.[30][31] Despite this, the district was rated as Likely D, meaning it was expected that Cartwright would win re-election.[32]

After the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania threw out Pennsylvania's previous congressional map, Cartwright's district was renumbered as the 8th district. It was pushed to the north and now covers the northeast corner of the state, but it also sweeps west to grab Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In the process, it absorbed the remainder of Lackawanna County previously in the 10th district, as well as almost all of Luzerne County.

In the election, Cartwright faced a self-funding opponent who spent $1.7 million of his family's money in the race, in total outspending Cartwright by nearly $300,000, including direct expenditures of $625,778 by the NRCC.[33]

Cartwright won his fourth term by 9.3% with 54.65% of the vote without financial assistance from the DCCC.[33]

Following the general election, Cartwright was elected to House Democratic leadership, to serve as Co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee for the 116th Congress in the House Democratic Caucus elections.[34]


On November 3, 2020, despite Donald Trump again carrying his district, Cartwright won a fifth term, defeating Republican challenger Jim Bognet, the former senior vice president for communications of the Export–Import Bank of the United States,[35] by 3.6 points, his lowest margin of victory to date. In contrast, Trump won the district against Democratic challenger and Scranton native Joe Biden by 4.4 points during the concurrent presidential election. At 8%, Cartwright's 2020 victory represented the largest over-performance by a Democrat in Pennsylvania compared to the presidential result, and the second largest for a Democratic win in a district Trump carried in the entire House, only behind Jared Golden of Maine.[36][37] As a result, Cartwright became one of only seven incumbent Democratic Representatives in the U.S. House to win their seats despite Trump prevailing over Biden in them.[38] He also was one of only three Democrats in the U.S. House to defend their seats successfully despite Donald Trump winning their districts twice.[37]

Following the general election, Cartwright was re-elected to House Democratic leadership, to serve as Co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee for the 117th Congress in the 2020 United States House of Representatives Democratic Caucus leadership elections.

On January 25, 2021, Cartwright was elected Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science and Related Agencies.[39]


Cartwright is running for reelection in 2022.

In 2022, Cartwright appeared in advertisements praising one of his top donor's law firms in what Axios described as "an apparent misunderstanding over video shot for the Pennsylvania Democrat's bill about water contamination at Camp Lejeune." Members of Congress are not allowed to use official resources to promote commercial activity. Cartwright sent a cease and desist letter to the law firm, which took down the ads.[40]

Committee assignments[edit]


Political positions[edit]

Joe Biden[edit]

As of August 2022, Cartwright had voted in line with Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time.[47]


Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post wrote on November 3, 2013, that Cartwright was elected largely based on the Affordable Care Act "because the veteran moderate Democrat he challenged in a primary voted against it." According to O'Keefe, "Cartwright spent his first year in office preparing constituents for 'the ACA'."[48]

In May 2017, Cartwright voted against the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act.[49] Cartwright said in January 2018 that he continued to support the Affordable Care Act.[50] Cartwright also supports Medicare for All.[51][non-primary source needed]


In July 2015, Cartwright voted against a bill that would have withdrawn funding from municipalities that declined to detain undocumented persons for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service.[citation needed] In June 2017, Cartwright was one of three Democrats who joined the 228–195 majority voting to cut off some particular federal grants from cities not agreeing to detentions. He voted for "Kate's Law", to increase criminal punishment for undocumented recidivist violent criminals.[52] He co-sponsored legislation to protect the "Dreamers", people who entered the country illegally as children.[50] When Trump ordered a temporary limit on immigration from certain countries, Cartwright criticized the order.[50]


Cartwright supports net neutrality.[50]

Economic issues[edit]

Cartwright has criticized the Trump tax cut, saying that it gave taxpayers little relief while adding huge sums to the national debt.[50]


On February 26, 2014, Cartwright introduced the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014 (H.R. 4092; 113th Congress), a bill that would require the United States Department of Energy to establish a centralized clearinghouse to disseminate information on federal programs, incentives, and mechanisms for financing energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades at schools.[53][54] Cartwright argued that "the bill is a strategic and cost-saving investment to relieve the fiscal pressure felt by schools across the country while bringing us closer to energy security." Cartwright's bill passed unanimously out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on April 30, 2014.[55] It passed the full House of Representatives on June 23, 2014.[56]

Gun policy[edit]

During his first month in office he co-sponsored four bills involving gun control.[57] He opposes gun-makers' legal immunity after a crime has occurred, and he opposes assault rifle sales.[57]

In 2022, Cartwright voted for H.R. 1808: Assault Weapons Ban of 2022.[58][59]

LGBT rights[edit]

He has stated "there's no reason to discriminate against gay people."[60] He does not believe religious leaders should be mandated to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.[60]

Student loans[edit]

In October 2018, Cartwright co-authored a Washington Post article proposing a pilot program to examine the effectiveness of non-transferable financial incentives such as certain student loan forgiveness being given to increase organ donation.[61]


Cartwright has pushed for re-establishing a passenger rail line between Northeastern Pennsylvania and New York City, which was last operated in the early 1970s with Erie Lackawanna Railway's Phoebe Snow Passenger Service. This restoration would use funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the INVEST in America Act.[62][63]

Marjorie Taylor Greene[edit]

Cartwright sponsored a resolution to expel Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress, suggesting that she "advocated violence against our peers, the Speaker and our government."[64]

Electoral history[edit]

Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Matt Cartwright 161,393 60.31
Republican Laureen Cummings 106,208 39.69
Total votes 267,601 100
Democratic hold
Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Matt Cartwright (Incumbent) 93,680 56.76
Republican David Moylan 71,371 43.94
Total votes 165,051 100
Democratic hold
Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Matt Cartwright (Incumbent) 157,734 53.80
Republican Matt Connolly 135,430 46.20
Total votes 293,164 100
Democratic hold
Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Matt Cartwright (Incumbent) 134,519 54.65
Republican John Chrin 111,640 45.35
Total votes 246,159 100
Democratic hold
Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Matt Cartwright (Incumbent) 178,442 51.77
Republican Jim Bognet 166,227 48.23
Total votes 344,669 100
Democratic hold

Personal life[edit]

Cartwright married Marion K. Munley on August 10, 1985, in Archbald, Pennsylvania.[65] They live in Moosic, Pennsylvania, with their two sons.[66]


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  2. ^ "Matthew Cartwright '83 Runs for Congress Alumni News & Notes". Hamilton College. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
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  9. ^ Toeplitz, Shira (April 17, 2012). "Redistricting Makes Blue Dog Holden an Underdog". Roll Call.
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  11. ^ Moyer, Josh (April 10, 2012). "Cartwright emphasizes health care, trade in platform". Citizens Voice. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
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  19. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (April 25, 2012). "Jason Altimire, Tim Holden fall in Pennsylvania primaries". Politico.
  20. ^ Sledge, Matt (April 25, 2012). "Matt Cartwright, Environmentalist Candidate, Wins Pennsylvania Primary With Help Of Oil Magnates". Huffington Post.
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  35. ^ Jackson, Kent (January 24, 2020). "Hazleton native seeks GOP nomination in 8th District". The Citizens' Voice. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
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  40. ^ "Congressman demands donor stop using him in TV ads". 25 August 2022.
  41. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
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  46. ^ "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  47. ^ Bycoffe, Anna Wiederkehr and Aaron (2021-04-22). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  48. ^ O'Keefe, Ed; Rep. Matt Cartwright, loyal Democrat, stands by health-care law, takes stage to defend it; Washington Post; November 3, 2013;
  49. ^ Stallsmith, Shelly; 4 Pa. Republicans voted against health care bill; Statesmen Journal; May 4, 2017;
  50. ^ a b c d e Peterson, Margie; At town hall, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright weighs in on tax bill, coal industry and whether he welcomes a primary challenge; The Morning Call; January 25, 2018;
  51. ^ Jayapal, Pramila (2021-03-17). "Cosponsors - H.R.1976 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Medicare for All Act of 2021". Retrieved 2021-03-17.
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  58. ^ "House passes assault-style weapons ban | CNN Politics". CNN. 29 July 2022.
  59. ^ "H.R. 1808: Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 -- House Vote #410 -- Jul 29, 2022".
  60. ^ a b "Cartwright backs gay marriage". Times Leader. February 16, 2013. Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  61. ^ "Student loan forgiveness and other incentives could save lives. Here's how". Washington Post.
  62. ^ DuPuis, Roger (July 4, 2021). "Cartwright sees hope for Scranton-NYC train through infrastructure bill". Times Leader. Archived from the original on August 22, 2021. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  63. ^ "Possibly restoring passenger rail service to NEPA from New York". WBRE/WYOU. January 4, 2022. Archived from the original on January 8, 2022. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  64. ^ "72 House Democrats Support Resolution to Expel GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene". CBS News.
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  66. ^ Krawczeniuk, Borys (January 25, 2012). "Cartwright says he's the real Democrat, not Holden". The Times-Tribune.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by