Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R) announced Wednesday that he will take on Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) for a third time in 2010. A darling of national Republicans, Barletta’s entrance into the race makes it a top-tier contest yet again.
Barletta came close to defeating Kanjorski in 2008 but lost by 4 points 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. Barletta, who has amassed almost $250,000 in debt from his previous two bids, said he will start fundraising for his 2010 campaign immediately and not try to pay off his debt first.
The 13-term Congressman has not unequivocally said whether he will run for re-election, but aides say he is campaigning as if he will run for another term next year. In a statement from his campaign, Kanjorski invoked New York Yankees great Yogi Berra and called the third Barletta challenge “déjà 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) is also running, but Barletta is expected to win the GOP nod.