The former Republican congressman running for governor of Pennsylvania told The Star News Network what drove him to run for governor after watching families and businesses suffer under Gov. Thomas W. Wolf and his pandemic policies.
“Actually, watching how Governor Wolf mismanaged the pandemic,” said Louis J. “Lou” Barletta, who left his House seat to challenge Democratic Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., in 2018. Wolf is term-limited and cannot run for a third term.
“Picking and choosing what businesses stay open, what businesses closed – crushing those employees and families made no sense to me – literally, going against what science was telling us – shutting down our schools, keeping our children out of schools for a year – having a year of their education stolen away from them,” said the native of Hazelton, where he also served as the city’s mayor.
“It is very difficult to tell moms in Pennsylvania they don’t have any right to decide what their children are being taught in the school,” he said.
“Look at Philadelphia and its crime,” he said.
“There is no question law and order will be on the top of our list – we would stand behind the men and women in our law enforcement – the people of Pennsylvania would know that we are going to stand behind them – we are not going to go where police have to turn their heads, which is what is happening in Kensington in Philadelphia, where they’re not allowed to do anything,” he said.
“People want to be safe,” he said. “Look at the illegal immigration, and they’re coming in and taking away jobs,” he said. “It’s the entire environment of what’s going on, what’s coming from Washington, and the direction the Democrats are taking us.”
Barletta said on top of Wolf’s economic, social and educational missteps; he was shocked at how the governor sent COVID-19 infected senior citizens into nursing homes with otherwise healthy senior citizens.
“Putting COVID-19 positive seniors back into the nursing homes, when we knew there were our most vulnerable – 50 percent of our deaths in Pennsylvania came from nursing homes – our percentage is higher than Cuomo had in New York, and Whitmer had in Michigan and Murphy in New Jersey,” he said.
“I felt, well, if not me, who? We can’t take eight more years of the Democrats destroying our jobs in Pennsylvania – and having Joe Biden in Washington – and having a Democrat as governor. I don’t think it is the best for the people.”
Beyond the handling of the pandemic, the people of Pennsylvania need a governor who will kickstart the economy, he said.
“People are struggling when they go to the grocery store,” he said. “They see there is nothing on the shelves, and the prices are no longer what they can afford. Then, they go to the gas station to fill up their vehicles.”
The one-time Cincinnati Reds prospect said although the president presents himself as a Pennsylvania guy, born and raised in Scranton, he doesn’t understand where the Keystone State is today.
“He doesn’t get Pennsylvania when he wants to put an end to our gas industry, our natural gas industry,” he said.
“He, more than anybody, should know, what that means to the working families, to the men and women who are depending on it in the communities that were benefiting from it – literally trying to destroy Pennsylvania’s future doesn’t make sense for somebody who claims to be from Scranton and cares so much about the people there.”
Barletta said the strength of his primary campaign would be his congressional district and the name recognition and organization he built to win the GOP Senate nomination in 2018.
“My old congressional looked like Italy on the map,” he said. “It starts in Wyoming County in northeastern Pennsylvania, and it stretched down into south-central Pennsylvania, so eight years as a member of Congress, and then in 2018, running statewide for Senate gives me statewide name ID that none of the others would have.”
The three major candidates oppose Barletta. They are Joseph C. Gale, the commissioner for Montgomery County, which is northwest of Philadelphia and anchored by the city of King of Prussia; Charles R. Gerow, a longtime Republican operative and strategist; and William M. McSwain, who served as President Donald J. Trump’s U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia.
“Pennsylvania’s a big state – it takes a lot of time and money to get that name ID where mine already is,” he said.
“We’ll raise what I need – obviously, the others will have to raise a lot more – we’ll raise everything we need to win the primary.”
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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network. Follow him on Twitter: @neilwmccabe2.