Thomas Timothy "Tim" Holden
(born March 5, 1957)
is an American
who has been a member of the United States House of
since 1993. A Democrat, he has
represented the 17th congressional
district of Pennsylvania ( map), having previously represented the 6th
District from 1993 until 2003.
He is a member of the
, the Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee
, and the Resources Committee
Holden is one of the most socially conservative
Democrats in the House. A
leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition
, he is Pro-life
and is opposed to gun control
, and was one of 73 Democrats who
voted for the Bankruptcy Bill. However, he has strong ties to
organized labor, and has been critical of the Bush Administration
's fiscal policy.
Holden earned a bachelor's degree
in sociology from Bloomsburg
University of Pennsylvania; he became a licensed real estate agent and later
an insurance broker (1983). He has worked as a probation officer and
as Sergeant-at-Arms for the
of Representatives, and was the sheriff of Schuylkill
House of Representatives
Holden was first elected to Congress from the 6th District, based
in Reading and including Berks and Schuylkill counties.
The district was
comprised mostly of Reagan Democrats
who were still willing to vote Republican
elections (it voted for George H.
in 1992, Bob
and George W.
Bush in 2000
), but Holden
was reelected four times without serious opposition.
Pennsylvania lost two districts after the 2000 United States Census
Republican-controlled General Assembly
the 6th, splitting its territory among three other districts. The
legislature considered placing Holden's home in Schuylkill County
in the 11th District, a heavily Democratic area in northeastern
Pennsylvania. This would have forced a primary matchup with
, an eight-term
Democrat who was slightly more progressive than Holden.
Eventually, it moved Holden's home to the
Republican-leaning Harrisburg-based 17th District, represented by 10-term
Republican George Gekas .
On paper, the redrawn 17th appeared to so heavily favor Gekas that
it appeared unwinnable for a Democrat, even one as conservative as
Holden. To some, it was a blatant gerrymander
intended to force Holden into
retirement. Gekas retained 60% of his former territory, and George
W. Bush had carried the newly drawn district with 57% of the vote
in 2000 
However, to the surprise of many observers, Holden did not retire,
instead opting to run in a district that was 65% new to him (a
small corner from the even more Republican 9th District was moved
to the 17th). Gekas was forced into his first real campaign ever.
Holden managed to gain endorsements from much of Gekas' old base,
much to Gekas' surprise. Even Gekas' hometown paper, The Patriot-News
, endorsed Holden,
saying that the 17th was not the same district that elected Gekas
in 1982. Gekas got another rude surprise when Holden visited
as Uptown and Allison Hill after finding out that Gekas had never
set foot in these neighborhoods in his congressional career. He
asked the residents of these neighborhoods not to vote for a
congressman who didn't bother to visit them. In November 2002, in
one of the biggest upsets in recent political history, Holden
narrowly defeated Gekas.
Holden ran for re-election against Republican lawyer Scott Paterno,
son of Penn State football coach
Joe Paterno, .
Paterno was actively supported by
influential Republicans, and President Bush and Vice President
came to the district several
times to support him. Nevertheless, Holden won re-election by a
comfortable margin even as Bush easily carried the district.
In November 2009, Holden voted with 38 other Democrats against the
Care for America Act
Congressman Tim Holden | Committee Information
From 2003 through 2005, $14.7 billion in crop subsidies went to the
congressional districts of members on the House Committee on
Agriculture, an analysis by the non-partisan Environmental Working
Group found. That was 42.4% of the total subsidies. Holden is
reported to have brought $17 million to the 17th District.
2006 re-election campaign
Holden faced Republican Matthew Wertz, an Afghanistan War
veteran, in the November 2006 Midterm
. However, Wertz dropped out of the race before the
general election citing personal reasons. Holden went on to easily
win re-election in the 2006 Congressional election, taking 65% of
the total vote.
2008 re-election campaign
Holden successfully ran against Republican Toni Gilhooley, a
retired PA State Trooper who served for 25 years.
- Dilanian, Ken, Billions go to House panel members' districts",
USA Today. July 26, 2007.