Rep. Christopher Carney (D)
Pennsylvania 10th District
The northeast corner of Pennsylvania is a land of crevassed valleys and rugged mountains, criss-crossed by giant viaducts built for the railroads linking the East Coast with the Great Lakes and the mines to the big cities that heated their houses with the region’s anthracite coal. Except for a row of anthracite coal cities from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre, this part of Pennsylvania still has a wild look to it. The superstructure of railroads and Interstate 80 pass through an area that seems otherwise little touched by recent prosperity. The region has numerous long-established small towns, with solidly built courthouses and banks and elderly citizens. It’s a part of the Northeast that seems worlds away from the region’s huge central cities and growing suburbs. The biggest towns here are Lewisburg, home of Bucknell University and a major federal penitentiary, and Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series. Only at the eastern edge is there significant growth. Pike County on the Delaware River is the state’s fastest-growing county. It increased in population by 29% since 2000, mostly as a result of people fleeing high taxes in New Jersey and New York. The local Pocono Mountains are a destination for weekenders and, for a few days each November, for bear hunters. In the winter months, hunters in increasing numbers turn to tracking coyote in the fresh snow.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania includes all of northeast Pennsylvania except for Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and fast-growing Monroe County, which are in the 11th District. The area’s most consequential congressman was probably David Wilmot, who in the 1840s introduced the Wilmot Proviso barring slavery from the New Mexico and California Territories acquired in the Mexican War; this raised the issue of slavery in the territories which led proximately to the Civil War. Wilmot was a founder of the Republican Party. Most people in this part of Pennsylvania have been Republicans ever since. John McCain won the district with 54% in 2008, a sizable dip from George W. Bush’s 60% win in 2004.
Rep. Christopher Carney (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: March 2, 1959, Cedar Rapids, IA .
Education: Cornell College, B.S. 1981, U. of WY, M.A. 1983, U. of NE, Ph.D. 1993.
Family: Married (Jennifer); 5 children.
Military career: Naval Reserve, 1995-present.
Professional Career: Prof., PA St. U.-Worthington Scranton, 1992-2006.
The congressman from the 10th District is Christopher Carney, a Democrat elected in 2006. Carney was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and studied at Cornell College, the University of Wyoming and the University of Nebraska. In 1992, Carney moved his family to Pennsylvania to take a job as an associate professor at Penn State University’s Scranton campus. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Carney, a Navy reservist, was called up to go to Afghanistan, but instead ended up at the Pentagon analyzing CIA intelligence for Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith in search of connections between al-Qaeda terrorists and the government of Iraq. His conclusion, which he has defended, was that there were “high-level” contacts between the two, but he said the Bush administration took the evidence too far when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared the connection was “bulletproof.”
|Christopher Carney (D)||160,837||(56%)||($2,333,358)|
|Chris Hackett (R)||124,681||(44%)||($3,226,168)|
|Christopher Carney (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (53%)
Carney told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader he decided to run for Congress after he saw Republican Rep. Don Sherwood at a gas station, preparing to go to Washington to vote on the end-of-life case of Terri Schiavo, a comatose Florida woman whose feeding tube was ordered removed by the courts. Congressional Republicans stepped in to try to reverse that decision. “This was the Republicans trying to capitalize on this family’s misery and it made me mad. I’m Irish and I had a couple hundred more miles to go before I was home, and actually somewhere right around Wilkes-Barre I decided, ‘Dammit, I’m going to do this.’”
Sherwood represented a reliably Republican district, but the seat was put into play after the Times Leader reported in April 2005 that police had been called to Sherwood’s Capitol Hill apartment in September 2004 by a 29-year-old woman who accused him of punching and choking her. Sherwood said he was giving her a back rub. Sherwood’s accuser later said she had a five-year affair with the married congressman and filed a lawsuit against him seeking $5.5 million in damages. It was settled in November 2005, reportedly for $500,000. Sherwood faced an unusually competitive challenge in the May 2006 Republican primary from an underfunded candidate who ran on family values and held the incumbent to just 56%-44%.
In an attempt to steer the campaign back to safer territory in this conservative district, Sherwood portrayed Carney as a supporter of tax increases and accused Carney of deceiving voters on his position in favor of abortion rights. A cancer survivor, Carney also supported federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which many conservatives consider a form of abortion. Carney criticized Bush’s execution of the war and advocated the redeployment of a U.S. battalion for each equivalent Iraqi security force trained as a replacement. Because of Carney’s opposition to the war, activists were willing to overlook his role in helping to make the White House case for intervention in Iraq.
Carney avoided direct mention of Sherwood’s affair for most of the campaign until late September, when he aired a television ad that featured a one-time Sherwood supporter holding a photo of his 26-year-old stepdaughter and saying, “How can I tell her I support Don Sherwood and feel good about myself?” Sherwood issued a direct apology to the district for the affair and denied that any abuse occurred. “Should you forgive me, you can count on me to continue fighting for you and your family,” Sherwood said in his own TV ad. National Republican leaders including President Bush and House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio visited the district in an attempt to save Sherwood. But Carney won 53%-47%.
In the House, Carney has a voting record almost precisely in the center of the 435 members. He disappointed liberal activists with his support for Bush’s domestic surveillance legislation and his opposition to Democratic proposals for Iraq. Although he voted for a resolution opposing the “surge” in Iraq, he was one of only nine Democrats in April 2007 who voted against a provision setting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. “I do not want partisan bickering over timetables to delay funding for our troops,” he said. In 2008, Carney was promoted to commander in the Navy Reserve and serves one weekend each month at the Pentagon.
As a freshman, he became chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Management, Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee. His proposal for increased transparency in Transportation Security Administration contracting was included in the omnibus appropriations bill enacted in December 2007. Attempting to secure his hold on the seat, Carney led all freshman Democrats in 2007 in the amount of earmarked spending he got for his district in the appropriations bills, some $18 million.
Republicans naturally targeted this district in 2008, but a contentious primary weakened their nominee, Luzerne County businessman Chris Hackett. Although Carney was outspent $3.2 million to $2.3 million, with Hackett spending $1.2 million of his own money, he successfully attacked Hackett’s support for a national sales tax. Carney won 56%-44%.