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A Pennsylvania congressman who has touted himself as a “moderate” despite being in the Congressional Progressive Caucus is anticipated to have one of the most closely-watched congressional elections this year as he works to again defend his seat in a district that voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020. 

“I am a moderate, so don’t be worried about me running off with Nancy Pelosi,” Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright said in 2014 during a debate in the lead up to his first re-election.

Nearly a decade later, voting records show Cartwright overwhelmingly voted in line with Nancy Pelosi when she served as House Speaker, and has continued his membership with the left-wing Congressional Progressive Caucus as a handful of other left-wing Democrats left the group following the war in Israel or over cost of membership. 

Cartwright was first sworn into Congress in 2013, where he represented Pennsylvania’s 17th District before the state redistricted in 2018, when Cartwright was elected to represent the state’s 8th District. 

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“His priorities in Congress include strengthening the middle class, creating jobs, ensuring quality health care, protecting seniors, and supporting veterans and military families. A strong believer in working with members of both political parties, he has introduced more bills with Democratic and Republican support than any other House Democrat since he was first elected,” Cartwright’s congressional biography states. 

The 8th District is located in Pennsylvania’s northeastern portion of the state, and includes cities such as Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, encompassing Wayne, Pike, and Lackawanna counties, as well as portions of Luzerne and Monroe counties. 

Cartwright is up for re-election again this year, when Pennsylvania will take center stage as a top battleground state as Trump and President Biden tee up another face-off for the White House. 

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Cartwright’s district voted to re-elect Trump in 2020, carrying the district by 2.9 points over Biden. While Cartwright defeated his Republican congressional challenger by just over 7,000 votes of the 286,886 cast that year, New York Times data shows. 

Former President Donald Trump clapping

His re-election campaign this year is anticipated to be closely watched, as he is one of just nine districts across the country where Democrats are working to defend their seats after Trump won the districts in the 2020 presidential election. 

In comments to Fox News Digital, the Republican congressional candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th District, Rob Bresnahan, took issue with Cartwright’s repeated proclamations of support for Pennsylvania’s working class while remaining in Congress’ left-wing Progressive Caucus. 

“Every election year Matt Cartwright proclaims ‘I work for you’ to the working class voters of the 8th District. How could that be true as a member of the radical Progressive Caucus? It’s not. Matt Cartwright represents the radical left, and they own his vote,” Bresnahan said. 

Fox News Digital repeatedly emailed and called Cartwright’s campaign, congressional office, and press secretary for comment since last week, but did not receive a reply. 

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The Progressive Caucus was established in 1991 by lawmakers such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, and California Rep. Maxine Waters. The group is now chaired by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and represents the Democratic Party’s most left-leaning members, including each member of the Squad. 

Nancy Pelosi and Matt Cartwright

The caucus has bled membership in recent months, most notably after war broke out in Israel in October, with Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Zoe Lofgren of California both confirming this month they are no longer with the caucus, citing cost of membership. Earlier this year, New York Rep. Ritchie Torres also left the caucus after disagreeing with the group on the war in Israel, while Florida Rep. Lois Frankel left last year over similar reasons, Axios reported.  

Progressive Caucus members

Fox News Digital examined Cartwright’s voting record for the 117th Congress, which began and 2021 and officially ended last year, and found he agreed with New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on 95% of votes, and agreed with Progressive Caucus Chair Jaypal on 97% of votes, data published by ProPublica shows. 

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Despite saying he would not be “running off with Nancy Pelosi” in 2014, his voting record for the 117th Congress also shows he voted in line with Pelosi a whopping 100% of the time. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The Daily Kos, a left-wing blog outlet, reported this month that even after winning his district in 2022 following Trump’s win in 2020, Bresnahan “may be the toughest challenger for Cartwright yet,” while the Cook Political Report lists the seat as a “Democratic toss up” and Politics Pennsylvania lists his seat as “vulnerable.” 

A recent Fox News poll found Pennsylvania overall is expected to hold another nail-biter election this presidential election. In the presumptive presidential rematch, Trump has a narrow edge over Biden among Pennsylvania registered voters, at 49% to Biden’s 47%, according to a poll released last Wednesday. The 2-point difference is within the poll’s margin of error.

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In his previous 2022 campaign, Cartwright detailed on his website that his top priorities included: lowering prices “from the grocery aisle to the gas pump;” “protecting and expanding access to affordable health care for all northeastern Pennsylvanians;” defending the military and veterans; funding and supporting police; finding solutions to the opioid epidemic and strengthening the education system. 

“Matt Cartwright has spent his entire career sticking up for working people, first as a trial attorney and now as the congressman in Pennsylvania’s Eighth District. He is a fighter for all hardworking northeastern Pennsylvanians, standing up to corporate special interests and Washington insiders to lower prices, protect and expand access to health care, and grow our local economy,” his campaign website states. 

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Marinella said in comment to Fox News Digital that Cartwright presents himself as a moderate in order to “squeeze out a vote” while pushing left-wing policies. 

“Matt Cartwright is the embodiment of a lying politician who will do and say anything to squeeze out a vote. Cartwright thinks his voters are fools who are willing to believe he’s a moderate, while he has personally crafted the extreme policies of the far left wing of the Democrat Party,” Marinella said. 

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Capitol Dome

Cartwright, who is a senior member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, voted for Democratic legislation such as the Build Back Better Act, co-sponsed Medicare for All legislation, and has voiced support for some policies in the Green New Deal.

Cartwright is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, which will be held next month. Republican challenger Bresnahan, a fifth-generation native of Luzerne County and CEO of Kuharchik Construction, is anticipated to face Cartwright in the general election on Nov. 5. 

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