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Rush Holt, Jr.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1999
Preceded by Mike Pappas

Born October 15, 1948 (1948-10-15) (age 61)
Weston, West Virginia
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margaret Lancefield
Children Michael, Dejan, and Rachel
Residence Hopewell Township, NJ
Alma mater Carleton College (BA),
New York University (MA, PhD)
Profession Physicist, Professor
Committees Committee on Education and Labor, Committee on Natural Resources, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Select Intelligence Oversight Panel
Religion Quaker

Rush Dew Holt, Jr. (born October 15, 1948, Weston, West Virginia) is an American Democratic Party politician and the current U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 12th Congressional District. He is currently the only Quaker in the Congress and one of only a few dozen Members of Congress who have a PhD.




Early life, career and family

Rush D. Holt was born to Rush D. Holt Sr., who served as a United States Senator for West Virginia (1935–1941), and his wife Helen Holt, the first woman to be appointed West Virginia Secretary of State (1957–1959).[1] 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 with a B.A. degree in physics from Carleton College in Minnesota, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from New York University. The title of his doctoral dissertation is "Calcium absorption lines and solar activity: a systematic program of observations" and is available from University Microfilms International as document number 8127915.

Holt served as 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 is married to Margaret Lancefield, a physician and Medical Director of the charity clinic of the University Medical Center at Princeton. They have three grown children from Lancefield's previous marriage: Michael, Dejan and Rachel and seven grandchildren: Noah, Niala, Boaz, Varun, Cecile, Rohan and Joshua.

Holt was also a 5-time winner on the version of Jeopardy! hosted by Art Fleming.

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. [2]

United States House of Representatives

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.[3]

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.[4][5]

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, an African-American, he defeated Soaries handily with 61% of the vote. He 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%).

A Rush Holt yard sign along Route 520 in Marlboro Township, New Jersey during his successful 2008 re-election campaign.

On May 22, 2003, Holt introduced legislation to require electronic voting machines to produce a paper record in time for the 2004 elections. The bill entitled Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 is designed to address concerns that there is no way to verify vote counts on electronic touch screen voting machines, should a similar situation arise as did in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. At the first meeting of the 110th Congress Rush Holt was the first Congressman to bring an issue to the Speaker. He has been active in contested elections, notably the 2006 controversy in Florida's 13th congressional district race between Christine Jennings and Vern Buchanan.[6]

Holt is a member of the New Democrat Coalition.

Holt 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.[7][8]

He has produced green bumper stickers reading My Congressman IS a rocket scientist! reflecting his scientific background.

Committee assignments

Scientific Publications

Journal Articles


  • 4,249,518 Method for maintaining a correct density gradient in a non-convecting solar pond


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Pappas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th congressional district

1999 – present


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