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Melissa Hart

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2001–January 4, 2007
Preceded by Ron Klink
Succeeded by Jason Altmire

Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 40th district
In office
January 1, 1991–January 2, 2001[1]
Preceded by John W. Regoli
Succeeded by Jane Orie

Born April 4, 1962 (1962-04-04) (age 47)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Single
Residence Bradford Woods, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Washington and Jefferson College, University of Pittsburgh
Occupation attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Melissa A. Hart (born April 4, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician. She was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007, representing Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district. She was the first Republican woman to ever represent Pennsylvania at the federal level. Prior to her service in Congress, she served in the Pennsylvania Senate, where she chaired the finance committee.

In the 2006 midterm elections, Hart lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Jason Altmire. She challenged Altmire again in the 2008 election, but was defeated again, by a wider margin than in 2006.


Biography and political views

Hart is an Italian-American, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2] She graduated from North Allegheny High School and Washington and Jefferson College before entering law school.

After graduating the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and being admitted to the bar, Hart joined a major Pittsburgh law firm.

She has served on the Washington & Jefferson College Board of Trustees.[3]

She is Catholic and pro-life. She is also firmly opposed to federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. In January 2006, she addressed a pro-life rally in Washington, D.C., urging young pro-lifers to enter public service.

Political career

In November 2000, Hart was elected to the House of Representatives from the Fourth District of the State of Pennsylvania, winning an open seat previously held by a Democrat. She had served as a senator in the Pennsylvania Senate from 1991 to 2000. She was later appointed co-chair of the Platform Committee for the 2004 Republican National Convention. [4]

In 2002, her campaign website was praised as being among the best of the election cycle.[5]

Hart co-chaired the Republican Party platform of 2004. In 2005, Hart won an appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Hart also played an active role in the race for majority leader in early 2006. As a top whip for the successful candidacy of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), she worked to secure votes for him in the race. She was one of a handful of GOP members who called for a full set of new leadership elections for whip, conference chair, and other offices below the majority leader position, but that motion narrowly failed the day before the majority leader race. Had this motion passed, Hart may have challenged Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) for House Republican Conference Chairman, the No. 4 leadership spot.

In December 2002, Hart was a candidate for Conference Vice-Chair, the No. 5 leadership spot, but lost to Jack Kingston (R-GA). In a 2002 PoliticsPA feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, he was named the "Most Likely to Succeed."[6]

2006 election

As the 2006 campaign season approached, Hart's congressional seat was not considered vulnerable, and Hart herself was described in media accounts as a "rising star" in Republican politics, who had never lost an election and who had demonstrated a unique ability to appeal to non-conservative voters even while maintaining a generally conservative voting record.[7] In late 2005, her predecessor in the House of Representatives, Democrat Ron Klink, publicly mulled over the possibility of challenging Hart for his old seat. However, in late December, Klink announced that he would not run. Jason Altmire, a 38-year-old health care executive and political unknown (and, by coincidence, a neighbor of Hart's brother, [8]) ultimately won the Democratic nomination for the seat.

For most of 2006, the Altmire campaign was viewed as a long shot, however, in the last weeks of the campaign his poll numbers surged, while Hart's dropped. A Susquehanna poll conducted in October 2006 showed Hart with what was then a surprisingly narrow 46%-42% lead over Altmire. [9]. Altmire's continued to climb as Hart's stalled, and five days before the November 7, 2006 election, the Cook Political Report altered its rating of the race from "Likely Republican" to "Toss up." [10]

On Election Day, Altmire was elected by a margin of 52%-48%[11].

Hart's was part of a generalized Republican meltdown in Pennsylvania that saw the defeat of three other incumbent Republican members of Congress, Democratic victories for the U. S. Senate and governor, and Democratic gains in the state legislature.

2008 election

Hart announced in July 2007 that she would run against Altmire in 2008. Despite speculation that retired athlete and former Gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann would run for the seat[12], Hart was unopposed for the Republican nomination.[13] In the general election, she was again defeated by Altmire, this time by a much larger margin.


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ronald Klink
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jason Altmire
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
John W. Regoli
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 40th District
Succeeded by
Jane Orie

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