Rush Dew Holt, Jr. (born October 15, 1948) is the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He is currently the only Quaker in Congress.
Early life and education
Rush D. Holt was born to Rush D. Holt Sr., who served as a United States Senator from West Virginia (1935–1941), and his wife Helen Holt, the first woman to be appointed West Virginia Secretary of State (1957–1959).
Holt Sr. was the youngest person ever to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, at age 29. He died of cancer when Rush was six years old.
Holt graduated from the Landon School in Bethesda, MD in 1966, then later graduated with a B.A. in physics from Carleton College in Minnesota, and later received his M.A.
and Ph.D. degrees in physics from New York University. The title of his doctoral dissertation was "Calcium absorption lines and solar activity: a systematic program of observations".
Holt was a faculty member at Swarthmore College from 1980 to 1988 where he taught physics, public policy, and religion courses. During that time, he also worked as a Congressional Science Fellow for U.S. Representative Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania.
From 1987 until 1989, Holt headed the Nuclear and Scientific Division of the Office of Strategic Forces at the U.S. Department of State.
From 1989 until his successful congressional campaign in 1998, Holt was the Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University, the University's largest research facility and the largest center for energy research in New Jersey.
Holt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1998, and re-elected five times, the most recent in November 2010.
Holt was also only the second research physicist to be elected to Congress, and the first Democrat; he joined Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and was later joined by Bill Foster (D-IL). Holt is now the only research physicist in the U.S. House of Representatives with the retirement of Ehlers and the defeat of Foster in 2010.
Holt has produced green bumper stickers reading "My Congressman IS a rocket scientist!", reflecting his scientific background.
Holt is one of two members of Congress to have participated on the American television game show Jeopardy!, the other being Senator John McCain of Arizona. Both appeared on the Fleming era of the television series with Holt winning five games. On February 28, 2011, Holt participated in a non-televised exhibition Jeopardy! match against the IBM computer Watson along with four other members of Congress (Jim Himes, Nan Hayworth, Jared Polis, and Bill Cassidy). Holt bested the computer $8,600 to $6,200 in a single-round match.
Holt's first race was in 1996, where he finished in third place in the Democratic party primary.
Holt ran again in 1998 and won the primary, pitting him against conservative Congressman Mike Pappas in the general election. Pappas' campaign experienced a setback after he read a poem, set to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", praising Kenneth Starr on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Holt won the election by a 51–48% margin, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district in two decades.
Holt was challenged by former Republican Congressman Dick Zimmer in the 2000 election; Holt's prior win was thought by Republicans to be a fluke, and the race attracted considerable money and advertising. The election was hotly contested, with Zimmer ahead on election night, but Holt ahead the next day. Ten days after the election, Holt declared himself the winner by 481 votes. Zimmer challenged the results, but conceded after the count began to go against him.
Redistricting before the 2002 elections made Holt safer, in part by adding much of Trenton. While Holt faced a fairly well-funded challenge from New Jersey Secretary of State Buster Soaries, he defeated Soaries handily with 61% of the vote.
Holt was reelected again in 2004 over Bill Spadea (59-41%) , in 2006 over former Helmetta, New Jersey Council President Joseph Sinagra (65-35%), and in 2008 over Holmdel, New Jersey Deputy Mayor Alan Bateman (62%-36%).
In an election where House Democrats suffered great losses, Holt defeated Republican candidate Scott Sipprelle, with 53% of the vote compared to Sipprelle's 46%. Independent Kenneth Cody received 1%.
Holt raised $2,229,432 in the 2010 election cycle and spent $1,891,463. 72% came from individual donations, and 26% from PAC donations. Holt’s former employer, Princeton University, was his single biggest donor, giving $56,863. Holt’s opponent, Scott Sipprelle, raised $1,541,776 and spent $1,327,946. 65% of Sipprelle’s funds came from self-financing. Independent Kenneth Cody refused to accept any donations.
Holt maintains consistent liberal viewpoints on many major issues. For example, he is pro-choice, supports a public health care option, and opposes the privatization of social security. Several of his legislative priorities include tax credits for small businesses, increasing access to a college education for middle class families, maintaining Medicare and Social Security, and preserving the environment.
Holt’s rankings released by various interest groups reflect his liberal views. Since 2009, he has been rated 100% in accordance with the interests of the following interest groups among others: Environment America, American Public Health Association, Americans for Democratic America, and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Holt has sponsored a variety of bills. H.R. 4159, the School Environment Protection Act of 2009, decreased the use of pesticides in schools and required that the schools inform employees and guardians about the pesticides used. He also sponsored H.R. 3152, the Helping Seniors Choose their Medicare Drug Plan Act, which increased the access that low-income healthcare recipients have to prescription drugs under Medicare and Medicaid. In H.R. 3835, the Protection Against Wrongful Voter Purges Act, Holt tried to regulate the removal of voters’ names from eligibility lists to ensure the validity of those lists. In H.R. 4005, the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts Act of 2009 (JUSTICE) ACT, Holt increased limits on governmental power with respect to counterterrorism efforts.
Holt is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. He received a grade of 100% on the progressive Drum Major Institute's 2005 and 2007 Congressional Scorecards on middle-class issues, and he is consistently scored well by that organization. In 2009, the National Journal rated him as one of the eight most liberal members of the House of Representatives.
On April 18, 2008, Holt was presented with the ASME President's Award in recognition of his "leadership in calling on a renewed national commitment to science, engineering, and math education programs" by past ASME president Terry Shoup.
December 19th, 2011