SCRANTON – Matt Cartwright is trading his job as one of eight attorneys at a local law firm for a position as one of 435 members of the U.S. Congress.
The 51-year-old Democrat from Moosic defeated Republican Laureen Cummings of Old Forge on Tuesday in the race for the state's 17th Congressional District.
In unofficial election results, Cartwright, a partner at the Munley, Munley and Cartwright law firm, defeated Cummings, 48, a nurse and the owner of Lorimar Home Care & Staffing Services, 62 percent to 38 percent. Cartwright garnered 140,634 votes to Cummings' 86,252, with 90 percent of the vote counted.
Speaking to a crowd packed into the Medallion Ballroom at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center, Cartwright thanked his family, his supporters and pledged to represent all of the people of the 17th District.
He started his speech by making several promises, including bringing passenger rail service to Northeastern Pennsylvania and protecting the 5,800 jobs at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.
One and a half miles away at the Clarion Hotel, Cummings also thanked supporters and in a phone interview said that she was proud of the way her campaign was run and that more than 86,000 people believed in her enough to cast a vote on her behalf.
She said that while she doesn't agree with Cartwright's platforms, she appreciated the fact the race was run above board and on the issues, not with negative ads and mailings.
She also said campaigning in such a large, oddly shaped district made campaigning a difficult endeavor.
The district was redrawn by state legislators last year and shifted from one that stretched from the Harrisburg area north to Schuylkill County to one that started in Lackawanna County and spread south to Schuylkill County and east into Monroe County. It now includes parts of Carbon, Monroe, Northampton, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and all of Schuylkill County.
The new district leans heavily toward Democrats in registration and is in an area where Cartwright is a known name, thanks to his law firm and appearances on a legal segment on a local television station.
Cummings was actually put at a disadvantage by her own party, said one local political science professor.
The 17th District is a prime example of gerrymandering – redistricting for partisan advantage by the state Republicans, said Jeff Brauer, who teaches at Keystone College. It was deliberately packed with Democrats to ensure Republican victories in the surrounding districts.
Cartwright called the layout an abomination of a gerrymandered district that they give us.
But he said he will represent every resident of the district when he heads to Washington in January.
Before then, he will begin getting his staff in order, attend congressional orientation in Washington and start scouting locations for district offices.
Brauer said the district's most important matchup came in the April 24 primary when Cartwright defeated 20-year-incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Holden.