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Some vulnerable Democrats stick to the middle — though not all of them

On votes, Matt Cartwright is a notable exception among Democrats in Trump districts

Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright has the highest party unity score among House Democrats from districts that backed President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thirty-one Democrats in the House face a daunting challenge next year. They must win re-election in districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. For many, the 2016 results were close. But in eight of the districts, Trump won in a romp, by more than 9 points.

It would make sense for those Democrats to stake out moderate territory to distinguish themselves from their party’s vocal liberal wing. Most of them are, with one notable exception.

That’s Matt Cartwright, the fourth-term lawmaker whose newly redrawn 8th District is in the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania centered around working-class Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

The district’s voters went for Trump by 10 points in 2016 and yet Cartwright has voted with his party on 99.3 percent of votes so far in 2019 when a majority of Democrats have split from a majority of Republicans.

One of Cartwright’s Trump-district colleagues, Minnesota’s Collin C. Peterson, has proved he has a special relationship with his district’s voters, who have long leaned strongly Republican in national elections. But Cartwright, unlike Peterson, is new to about half of his district after last year’s court-ordered redistricting in Pennsylvania.

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