Rep. Tim Holden , a nine-term Democrat from Pennsylvania, proved his mettle in 2002 when he survived a Republican redistricting map aimed at ousting him from office.
Holden’s image as a Democratic centrist enabled him to win an incumbent-incumbent matchup with longtime Republican Rep. George W. Gekas in the 17th District, designed with an overall GOP lean, and boosted him to easy victories in his three re-election campaigns since.
Republicans, though, contend that they should be able to compete for the 17th District seat. They point out that the district twice gave heavy support to George W. Bush in his bids as the Republican presidential nominee — 55 percent in 2000 and 58 percent in 2004 – and favored 2008 Republican nominee John McCain with 51 percent even as Democrat Barack Obama carried the state as a whole.
“My goal for the 17th is for Republicans to vote for a Republican,” said John J. McNally, Republican Party chairman for Dauphin County, which includes the state capital of Harrisburg. “My hope is that we are able to encourage Republicans to vote their principles.”