Cartwright was born on May 1, 1961 in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Alton S. Cartwright and Adelaide Cartwright. Matt Cartwright attended Upper Canada College (Toronto), graduating in 1979, before going on to earn a magna cum laude Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Hamilton College in 1983, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Cartwright studied law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He served two years as an Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1986. In 1981, Cartwright attended the London School of Economics where he met his future wife, Marion Munley. After graduating law school, both Munley and Cartwright joined the Munley family's law firm in the Scranton area.
For twenty-five years, Cartwright worked as an attorney and partner at Munley, Munley and Cartwright, a Scranton firm specializing in representation of consumers and small businesses in personal and business litigation. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1986 and in 2005 was further admitted to the Bar of New York. In 2008, Cartwright was inducted into the International Society of Barristers.
Cartwright served from 2009 to 2012 as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice. Between 2005 and 2011, Cartwright was the on-air legal analyst for The Law & You. In the segment, aired nightly as part of NBC affiliate WBRE-TV's evening newscast, he fielded viewer questions on legal matters. In 2011, Cartwright co-authored the legal treatise Litigating Commercial and Business Tort Cases published by Thomson Reuters.
During the 1992 presidential election, Cartwright was an Elected Delegate for candidate Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, representing Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district. In 2001-2002, he served as District Governor for Rotary International District 7410, covering northeastern Pennsylvania. On November 5, 2010, the Boy Scouts of America's Northeastern Pennsylvania Council presented Cartwright with its Silver Beaver Award for volunteer service to that organization.2012
Pennsylvania Republicans, who controlled the redistricting process after the 2010 United States Census, significantly altered Holden's 17th district. The old 17th had been based in Harrisburg, but the new 17th had been pushed well to the north and east. In the process, it absorbed heavily Democratic Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, previously in the 11th District. Had the district existed in 2008, Barack Obama would have carried it with 56 percent of the vote; by comparison John McCain carried the old 17th with 51 percent of the vote.
It was widely believed that Holden, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, would face a tough fight to secure re-election in the primary. Not only was the district significantly bluer than its predecessor, but it was located in territory that he did not know and did not know him. The only portion of the district that had been in the old 17th was Holden's home in Schuylkill County, with the majority of Democratic primary voters located in counties considered more favorable to Cartwright's candidacy. During the primary, Cartwright described himself as being from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" — a line often employed by Howard Dean and Paul Wellstone. He was supported by MoveOn.org, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Campaign for Primary Accountability. Cartwright ran as a self-professed "FDR Democrat", and as an ally of President Obama on taxes and health care reform, and pledged to work with U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., also of Scranton, on regulations for safety in fracking. Cartwright also benefited in the race from endorsements from popular local public figures like State Representative Phyllis Mundy and former Scranton mayor Jimmy Connors.
Holden's opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and his support of energy legislation that included the Halliburton loophole are believed to have contributed to his defeat.
On April 24, 2012, Cartwright defeated Holden by 57%-43% in the primary.
In the November general election, Cartwright faced Republican nurse Laureen Cummings, a leader of the Scranton Tea Party. On November 6, Cartwright defeated Cummings, 61%–39% to become the district's next congressman.
On January 4, 2013, Cartwright was selected by his peers to serve as a class president of the 49 new Democratic members of the 113th Congress.
On March 28, 2014, Cartwright was named a "moderate Democratic leader" in the U.S. House by the independent legislative watchdog GovTrack.us.2014
On November 4, 2014, Cartwright won a second term, defeating Republican challenger David Moylan, M.D., the elected Coroner of Schuylkill County, PA.2016
On November 8, 2016, Cartwright won his third term, defeating Republican challenger Matthew Connolly, a businessman from Northampton County, PA.Good Government
Cartwright supports good-government legislation, and has introduced bills involving transparency and efficiency. On April 12, 2016, he introduced H.R. 4904, the MEGABYTE Act, to reduce duplication of computer software procurement by the federal government. The bill passed in the U.S. House on June 7, 2016, and passed the U.S. Senate on July 14, 2016. It was signed by the President on July 29, 2016.
Cartwright supports reducing defense spending. He also has described education as the only method of truly alleviating poverty. He supports stricter enforcement of prohibitions against gender based discrimination in wages.Jobs
Cartwright has stated that promoting family-sustaining jobs is his "No. 1 message." He has introduced several bills to promote American manufacturing, including H.R. 2296, the Job Creation through Energy Efficiency Manufacturing Act, and H.R. 5812, the bipartisan Innovate America Act, which includes a manufacturing assistance program for small- and medium-sized American manufacturing companies.Environment
To combat global warming, Cartwright supports implementing cap-and-trade emission standards for companies to encourage lowering emissions. Although he believes American energy production and American economic growth are linked, he does not believe environment-friendly methods should be ruled out. He supports investments in sustainable "green" energy productions with fewer emissions. He also supports further forest conservation and is committed to keep water sources clean through repealing legislation allowing companies to pollute water supplies.
On February 26, 2014, Cartwright introduced the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014 (H.R. 4092; 113th Congress), a bill that would require the United States Department of Energy to establish a centralized clearinghouse to disseminate information on federal programs, incentives, and mechanisms for financing energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades at schools. Cartwright argued that "the bill is a strategic and cost-saving investment to relieve the fiscal pressure felt by schools across the country while bringing us closer to energy security." Cartwright's bill passed unanimously out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on April 30, 2014. It passed the full House of Representatives on June 23, 2014.Gun Control
Cartwright is in favor of more gun safety laws. During his first month in office he co-sponsored four bills involving gun control. He opposes gun-makers' legal immunity after a crime has occurred, as does he oppose assault rifle sales.Marriage Equality
He supports same-sex marriages and stated "there's no reason to discriminate against gay people." He does not believe religious leaders should be mandated to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.Abortion
Cartwright describes himself as a moderate on abortion.Taxes
Cartwright supports increasing the income tax on the highest incomes. He also believes the current tax system in place gives too many breaks to Americans in the highest tax brackets. He describes the middle class as being "under assault" and seeks to alter the tax system to allow the middle-class to carry less of a burden.Committee on Appropriations
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
House Democratic Committee on Steering and Policy
Cartwright married Marion Munley in 1985. They live in Moosic, Pennsylvania with their two sons.