Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2004, 5th term.

Born: May 24, 1960, Allentown, PA

Home: Allentown, PA

Education: PA St. U., B.A. 1982, Lehigh U., M.P.A. 1993

Professional Career: Development officer, Lehigh U., 1986-90.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Presbyterian

Family: Married (Pamela Jane Serfass) , 3 children

Charlie Dent, elected in 2004, is prominent in the rapidly dwindling ranks of moderate House Republicans, and he is admired by more conservative colleagues for his survival skills.

Dent grew up in Allentown, graduated from Penn State University and got a graduate degree at Lehigh, where he later worked as a development officer. In 1990, he was elected to the state House and in 1998 to the state Senate. When RepublicanRep. Pat Toomey announced that he would run against Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 Republican primary, Dent was the front-runner to succeed him.

Dent’s lifelong residence in the Lehigh Valley was in sharp contrast to the background of the Democratic nominee, businessman Joe Driscoll. Driscoll grew up in Massachusetts, where he went sailing with the Kennedys and made enough money to spend $2 million on this race. But he lived for years in posh Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County, just outside Philadelphia. Dent framed the campaign as a contest between a native son and a carpetbagging outsider who thought of the Lehigh Valley as “a speed bump on his way to Congress.” Driscoll sought to deflect the residency issue with aggressive criticism of the Bush administration, asserting that a vote for Dent was an endorsement of President George W. Bush’s by-then unpopular policies. Dent’s moderate record, which included support for abortion rights, made it difficult to tie him to Bush, and he insisted he would be an independent voice in Washington. Dent won 59%-39%.

In the House, Dent has one of the most liberal voting records among Republicans. He is a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of about 49 moderates in a GOP Conference dominated by conservatives. (He told National Journal that he prefers the term “center-right” to “moderate.”) In the 111th Congress (2009-10), he broke from the majority of Republicans to back such issues as expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco, and overhauling food safety laws. In the 112th (2011-12), he was one of just three Republicans to cosponsor a Democratic bill allowing immigrant partners of U.S. citizens to get permanent resident status in the same fashion as heterosexual couples. Earlier, he opposed Bush’s plan for partial “privatization” of Social Security.

Dent has stuck with the GOP on most major economic votes since Barack Obama became president, even refusing Obama’s personal entreaties to support the economic stimulus bill in 2009. The House Republican leadership has come to regard him as a useful swing vote. He was among the 85 Republicans who joined with 172 Democrats on New Year’s Day 2013 to pass the compromise bill on spending and taxes to avert a so-called fiscal cliff, and he was among the 49 Republicans who joined with 192 Democrats to pass a relief bill for states hit by Hurricane Sandy. He also voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues on a bill to temporarily extend the federal debt limit, which 33 Republicans opposed. After the House passed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in February 2013, he told The New York Times, “At a time like this, we have to show we can get something done.”

In 2011, Dent got a seat on the influential Appropriations Committee. That post was in part an acknowledgment of his willingness two years earlier to serve on the House Ethics Committee, regarded by most lawmakers as an unpalatable chore. On the spending panel, he has pressed for an accelerated elimination of automotive tariffs that impact Mack Trucks made in his district.

Democrats tried, but failed, to find a credible opponent to Dent in 2006. Northampton County Councilman Charles Dertinger got on the ballot as a write-in candidate, and criticized Dent for Bush’s “culture of corruption.” Dent won by a surprisingly narrow 54%-43%. In 2008, Democrats nominated Siobhan “Sam” Bennett,who ran an Allentown charity. She spent $950,000, but lost to Dent 59%-41%.

Two years later, Dent faced his toughest opponent by far in Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. The race was a statistical dead heat a month before the election, and former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden both made campaign stops for Callahan. But Dent was able to paint Callahan as fiscally irresponsible while portraying himself as a restraint on big government spending. Dent pulled off a surprisingly easy 54%-39% victory. In 2012, he reaped the benefits of a redrawn district stretching along Interstate 78 through five counties all the way to the deeply Republican outskirts of Harrisburg and Lebanon. Lehigh County Democratic Chair Rick Daugherty raised virtually nothing, and Dent won 57%-43%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6411

(202) 226-0778

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2211
Washington, DC 20515-3815

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6411

(202) 226-0778

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2211
Washington, DC 20515-3815

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 770-3490

(610) 770-3498

3900 Hamilton Boulevard Suite 207
Allentown, PA 18103-6122

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 770-3490

(610) 770-3498

3900 Hamilton Boulevard Suite 207
Allentown, PA 18103-6122

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 533-3959

(717) 533-3979

250 West Chocolate Avenue Suite 2
Hershey, PA 17033-1560

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 533-3959

(717) 533-3979

250 West Chocolate Avenue Suite 2
Hershey, PA 17033-1560

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 867-1026

(717) 867-1540

342 West Main Street Front
Annville, PA 17003-1327

DISTRICT OFFICE

(717) 867-1026

(717) 867-1540

342 West Main Street
Annville, PA 17003-1327

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 562-4281

(610) 562-4352

61 North 3rd Street
Hamburg, PA 19526-1501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(610) 562-4281

(610) 562-4352

61 North 3rd Street
Hamburg, PA 19526-1501

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

3626 Evening Star Terrace
Allentown, PA 18104

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(610) 758-9080

(610) 758-9084

3320 Hamilton Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18103-4525

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Staff

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Abortion

Caitlin Wilson
Legislative Assistant

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

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Legislative Director

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Legislative Assistant

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

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Caitlin Wilson
Legislative Assistant

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Legislative Director

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

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Dennis Petersen
Senior Legislative Assistant

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

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Dennis Petersen
Senior Legislative Assistant

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Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

Transportation

Dennis Petersen
Senior Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Sean Snyder
Legislative Director

Chrystal Foster
Veteran Outreach Coordinator

(717) 867-1026

Women

Caitlin Wilson
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Charlie Dent
Votes: 168,960
Percent: 56.75%
Rick Daugherty
Votes: 128,764
Percent: 43.25%
2012 PRIMARY
Charlie Dent
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Charlie Dent
Votes: 109,534
Percent: 53.55%
John Callahan
Votes: 79,766
Percent: 39.0%
Jake Towne
Votes: 15,248
Percent: 7.45%
2010 PRIMARY
Charlie Dent
Votes: 31,618
Percent: 82.92%
Mat Benol
Votes: 6,514
Percent: 17.08%
2008 GENERAL
Charlie Dent
Votes: 181,433
Percent: 58.57%
Sam Bennett
Votes: 128,333
Percent: 41.43%
2008 PRIMARY
Charlie Dent
Votes: 27,875
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (54%), 2008 (59%), 2006 (54%), 2004 (59%)

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