Melissa Hart is a former Republican congresswoman from outside Pittsburgh now running for governor of Pennsylvania. Serving from 2001 to 2007, she was the first Republican woman from the state to serve in Congress.
In a field of fire-breathing conservatives attempting to ingratiate themselves to former President Donald Trump, Hart casts herself as a “practical problem solver” with a record of winning elections in Democratic areas.
Hart, 60, is the only woman running in the May 17 GOP primary.
What is Melissa Hart’s background?
A Pittsburgh native, Hart graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1984 and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1987.
She was once seen as a rising star in the Pennsylvania GOP, winning a State Senate seat at 28 before moving on to Washington.
Hart represented an increasingly Democratic district that included the Pittsburgh suburbs and parts of Beaver, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties. She lost reelection to Congress in 2006 to Democrat Jason Altmire, who defeated her again in a 2008 rematch.
An attorney, Hart is now a consultant and lobbyist for the Hergenroeder Rega Ewing & Kenney firm in Pittsburgh.
What are Melissa Hart’s top policy priorities?
Hart wants to cut taxes and regulations “to make it easier to start or expand a business in Pennsylvania,” according to her campaign website.
She also wants to stop Gov. Tom Wolf’s efforts to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an organization of northeastern states that have agreed to caps on carbon emissions from power plants.
If elected, Hart says she would work to abolish Pennsylvania’s system of state-owned liquor and wine stores and to improve transparency in state government.
Hart says she wants to lower the temperature of America’s adversarial politics.
“I want to bring more common sense and a little less fight,” she said late last year. “My fight would be for the people who are being held back by either bad policy or actually unresponsive state agencies.”
Who is backing Melissa Hart?
Former U.S. Rep. Phil English (R., Pa.) recently endorsed Hart at a rally in Erie, echoing many of the themes of Hart’s campaign in an area English used to represent.
“Melissa Hart is not only the only woman and the only westerner in this race,” English said, “but the only reform-minded Republican with a proven record of winning tough elections by building coalitions that reach across the political divide.”
What else should I know?
Hart is facing an uphill battle in the race for governor against better-known Republicans rivals, including State Sen. Doug Mastriano, former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.