Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R) announced this morning that he will take on Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) for a third time in the 2010 cycle. A darling of national Republicans, Barletta’s entrance into the race makes this a top tier contest yet again.
“Together, with your help, support, and prayers, we will set America back on the right track – not just for today, but for the days when our grandchildren inherit our country,” Barletta said in a statement.
Barletta came close to defeating Kanjorski in his 2008 challenge, but lost by a four percentage point margin even though polls showed him leading the Congressman up until Election Day.
In a conference call with reporters, Barletta said his focus this cycle will be raising even more money to take on Kanjorski. Barletta, who has amassed almost $250,000 in debt from his previous two bids, also said he will start fundraising for his 2010 campaign immediately and not try to pay off his debt first.
The 13-term Kanjorski has not unequivocally said whether he will run for reelection, but aides say he is campaigning like he will run for another term next year. In a statement from his campaign, Kanjorski invoked Yogi Berra and called the third Barletta challenge “deja vu all over again.”
“Having been rejected by the voters twice, I guess Barletta is looking for strike three and you’re out,” Kanjorski said.
Kanjorski also has a primary opponent, Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien, however the Congressman is expected to win the Democratic nomination if he runs for re-election. Attorney Chris Paige (R) had already announced he will run for the nomination, but Barletta is expected to win the GOP nod.