Brian Walsh

Today’s Race of the Day brings us to Northeastern Pennsylvania.  In the state’s Eleventh District, Democrat Paul Kanjorski has represented the area since 1984 and has forgotten that he was sent to Washington to represent the best interests of his constituents, not his partisan leadership and Wall Street executives.  Recognizing the need to stop the reckless behavior in Congress, Republican’s are fortunate to have a strong candidate to challenge Kanjorski in Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta.

Pennsylvania’s Eleventh District lies north of Philadelphia and stretches from the New Jersey border westward towards Bloomsburg, encompassing all or parts of Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties.  The district includes the cities of East Stroudsburg, Hazelton, Nanticoke and Scranton and was formerly a coal producing powerhouse, at one point providing nearly 40% of the world’s hard coal.

As the Democrat primary proved, voters in Northeastern Pennsylvania are frustrated with Kanjorski’s inability to create jobs and for wasting his seniority on Wall Street bailouts and government takeovers.  In the recent primary, Kanjorski found stiff competition as a result of voter dissatisfaction with his record.  Kanjorski snuck by and won the primary, but more than half of Democrat primary voters opposed his candidacy for re-election.  Over the years, Kanjorski has increasingly demonstrated that he’s out of touch with his constituents.  He supports Nancy Pelosi’s left-wing agenda 97.3 percent of the time and has cast votes in favor of a government takeover of healthcare, the failed economic stimulus, and even the job-killing cap-and-trade bill. 

To top it all off, Kanjorski was perfectly fine with voting to increase the national debt limit to $14.3 trillion, passing on mountains of debt to future generations of Americans.  Most recently, he flip-flopped on Obama’s government-takeover of the student loan industry and, as a result, Kanjorski helped the president ship good-paying jobs out of Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

Lou Barletta was first elected Mayor of Hazleton, PA in 2000 – a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two-to-one margin.  Inheriting a massive budget shortfall, he has worked tirelessly to turn the city around with tough, but prudent, financial decisions that have distinguished him across the state.  Lou offers the type of leadership Washington needs to help rein in spending, pay down the debt and restore fiscal sanity to a bloated federal budget.

Since he announced that he would challenge Kanjorski again this November, Lou has worked around the clock to ensure his campaign is positioned to win.  He’s a proven fundraiser with an extensive grassroots network that is generating momentum for his candidacy across Pennsylvania, and quickly achieved Young Gun status in the NRCC’s candidate development program. 

Despite a Cook PVI rating of D+4 and the fact that then-candidate Obama won the district with 57% of the vote, Kanjorski was only able to fend off Lou Barletta 52-48%.  Without a heavy-weight on the top of the ticket to carry him to victory, Kanjorski is in for the toughest election of his career. 

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about Lou on his website – and be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on this race.  

Brian Walsh

Brian Walsh is the Political Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.