The campaign battle for the Democratic nomination in the 17th Congressional District saw its first attack ad salvo fired Monday, and it came from California.
BlueAmerica PAC issued a press release from Los Angeles ‚??reminding‚?Ě 17th District voters about U.S. Rep. Tim Holden‚??s support for the natural gas drilling method known as fracking. Billboards in Schuylkill, Lackawanna and Northampton counties went up emblazoned with ‚??Fracking‚??s got a friend in Pennsylvania.‚?Ě
Fracking ‚?? hydraulic fracturing ‚?? uses high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals to release gas trapped in shale deep underground.
The BlueAmerica PAC press release stated: ‚??Congressman Holden may be trying to cover up his past support for the practice now, but BlueAmerica PAC believes that many Democrats in the newly drawn 17th District need to know just how friendly he has been to the fracking industry for many years before they cast their votes in next month‚??s primary election.‚?Ě
The release quotes a report done by Lee Fang of the RepublicReport.com, that said Holden, D-St. Clair, ‚??voted to deregulate the horizontal drilling industry, a process commonly known as fracking, by voting for the ‚??Halliburton Loophole‚?? ‚?Ě placed by industry lobbyists. That law, the report states, ‚??exempted the process from the Clean Water Act, allowing oil and natural gas companies to go about their business with little accountability. In many cases, local communities have faced a variety of chemicals in their drinking water, some of them believed to be carcinogenic, because of the fracking boom in recent years.‚?Ě
BlueAmerica claims oil and gas interests have provided Holden with about $400,000 in contributions over the course of his 20-year career in Congress. Holden is the longest-serving Pennsylvania congressman.
Holden issued a statement in response, but he didn‚??t address the specifics of the BlueAmerica release. Instead, his campaign spokesman, Eric Nagy, said Holden preferred to focus on the outside influence of ‚??super PACs.‚?Ě
‚??Multiple Super PACs from outside the 17th district are poised to spend millions of dollars to distort Tim Holden‚??s record of public service and are determined to buy this election,‚?Ě Nagy said. ‚??Tim Holden is firmly opposed to Super PACs and believes that voters are supposed to decide elections, not corporations.‚?Ě
Nagy said Holden has always ‚??has always legislated from the political center, which is where most of America and the 17th District find themselves.‚?Ě
‚??What we have here is a case of the rich helping the rich ‚?? billionaires and millionaires coming to the rescue of fellow millionaire Matt Cartwright,‚?Ě Nagy said. ‚??But, Tim Holden‚??s priorities have not and will not waver.‚?Ě
BlueAmerica treasurer Howie Klein said BlueAmerica has endorsed Holden‚??s Democratic opponent Cartwright, of Moosic, in the April 24 Pennsylvania primary.
‚??The people of Northeastern Pennsylvania need to know Tim Holden‚??s record over the past 19 years that he is trying to hide,‚?Ě Cartwright said. ‚??He has voted against health care reform, opposed legislation that would have made it harder for banks to foreclose on struggling families at the height of the recession, and he voted with George W. Bush 60 percent of the time.‚?Ě
BlueAmerica is a political action committee dedicated to electing progressives to Congress.
Laureen Cummings, a nurse from Old Forge, is running on the Republican ticket.