Centrist Group Helping Holden in Pennsylvania Primary

Photograph by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Rep. Tim Holden at the Northhampton County Democratic Committee's Annual Spring Cocktail Party in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania.

A non-profit group that promotes political centrism and civility is aiding Representative Tim Holden of Pennsylvania with a television ad that attacks his opponent in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

The ad from Center Forward says that Washington, D.C., is “gridlocked” and that lawyer Matt Cartwright “would make it worse,” according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. The ad portrays Cartwright as unwilling to compromise in Congress and says he criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the 2010 health-care overhaul.

“More yelling. Less cooperation. Blaming President Obama. That’s the worst of Washington. That’s Matt Cartwright,” a narrator says.

Cartwright has said he wants the health-care system to include a government-run public option. He told the political website PoliticsPA April 15 that he would have voted for the measure Obama signed into law in 2010. Cartwright has criticized Holden’s vote against the bill.

Holden’s centrism — he’s a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who promote fiscal restraint — has enabled him to win 10 terms in a Republican-leaning district in east-central Pennsylvania. He’s vulnerable this year because Republicans redrew his district to absorb Democratic-leaning territory in eastern and northeastern Pennsylvania where he is not well-known. Cartwright also is competitive in part because he’s loaned or donated $390,000 to his campaign.

Center Forward, which was known as the Blue Dog Research Forum until last month, spent $104,700 to produce and air the ad, which is running in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre media market. It’s a 501(c)(4) organization that isn’t required to disclose its donors. The group’s chairman is Bud Cramer, a former Alabama Representative and conservative Democrat who served in Congress from 1991 to 2009.

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