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Attorney Matthew Cartwright announced Tuesday that he’ll challenge Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Holden, creating a potentially competitive Democratic primary in a mostly new district for the 10-term Blue Dog.

“I’m from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” the Scranton-area Democrat said during his campaign kickoff, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

Republicans drastically redrew Holden’s 17th district during their decennial redistricting last year. The seat is currently composed of parts of central Pennsylvania including Harrisburg, but next year Holden will live in a district that stretches all the way from Schuylkill County to Scranton and the state’s eastern border.

Not only is it new territory for Holden, but his current district leans heavily Republican, while his redrawn district was designed to be solidly Democratic. That sets up the potential for a very competitive primary for Holden, who has compiled a moderate-to-conservative voting record. 

Holden has not had a close race since 2002, when Pennsylvania Republicans moved him into the same district as then-Rep. George Gekas (R) during redistricting. Republicans assumed Gekas would triumph over Holden in the GOP district, but the Democrat won by about 6,000 votes.

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