Earlier this week, I sat down with Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazelton, PA -- just named PA's Mayor of the Year -- and the GOP nominee for Congress in PA-11 against Paul Kanjorski, an old-school, corrupt, machine Democrat. I know a little bit about the region, as my mom spends a bunch of time with her cousin who lives just outside of the district. At the end of June, I spent the better part of the day at the Anthracite Museum, where I learned about the coal mining industry that used to be the economic core of the district.
About 15 seconds into talking to Barletta, I thought "wow. This guy has something special." I am very cynical about politicians, especially Congressmen. They don't have to be very charismatic or, often, smart. Barletta is both. And I was disinclined to like him because I disagree with his hard-core immigration position, which could well put him over the top in this race.
Throughout the conversation, I learned more and more about the district, Barletta, and Kanjorski. I think that we can win this seat with this guy, even in this environment. His campaign released a poll that shows him up 47-42, which the DCCC believes enough to put up ads against him.
The upshot is that if you want to the GOP pick up a seat, give Lou Barletta some money. If you want to stop illegal immigration, give Lou Barletta some money. If you to get rid of a corrupt Democrat who gives taxpayer dollars to his campaign staff and family, give Lou Barletta some money. If you want to highlight Democratic use of earmarks, give Lou Barletta some money. if you want to stop a Democrat who admits to lying about the war for political gain, give Lou Barletta some money. If you want to stop a Democrat who says one thing about our security in Washington and another at home, give Lou Barletta some money, If you want to send a message to Congress that we need to develop more domestic energy sources, give Lou Barletta some money. Or if you want to support a model of conservative government at the local level, give Lou Barletta some money.
But there is a very deep thing going on here that might be the best reason of all. If you want to send a message that playing along with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi is no way to represent god-fearing, hard-working, working-class values, then give Lou Barletta some money. Barletta may offer a concrete model of how to win in a district like gave Hillary Clinton 75% of the Democratic primary vote.
I am going to write a lot more on Barletta. I think that he is a model for how we can continue to cut into Democratic districts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. But in the mean time, give Lou Barletta some money.