Former U.S. Representative Lou Bartletta has officially entered the race for Pennsylvania Governor. Barletta represented Pennsylvania’s 11th district from 2011-2019 before most recently coming up short in a Senate race against Bob Casey in 2018. Before becoming a congressman, Barletta served as mayor of Hazelton, PA.
Bartletta is arguably the most high profile name to enter the race. Other candidates include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, who has been conducting speaking events around the state for months. Other candidates who have publicly expressed interest are former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain, as well as Congressman Dan Meuser. State Senator Doug Mastriano is also a name that has garnered serious interest.
Barletta was one of the earliest members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump in 2016. “I wish that the establishment, instead of trying to stop Trump, you know, would look at why he’s so popular and coalesce around him so that it’s one team in November,” Barletta told Politico in March of that year. Many establishment GOP politicians were hesitant to embrace Trump and his movement at this time.
As mayor, Bartletta garnered a reputation for combating illegal immigration. His administration instituted hefty fines for businesses that hired illegal immigrants, but his efforts were largely thwarted. An ACLU led challenge to the ordinance was struck down by a Federal Judge in 2007, and again in 2010 by the United States Court of Appeals.
Barletta hit hard at incumbent Governor Tom Wolf in his announcement video, particularly in regards to the pandemic response. “Here in Pennsylvania, it was made so much worse by politicians. Politicians who weren’t just looking to stop a virus, but politicians hellbent on trying to change who we are and how we live,” he said. “Tom Wolf has blood on his hands for sentencing our seniors to die in nursing homes. It didn’t have to be this way,” he continued.
Barletta told the Associated Press that he is hoping to secure President Trump’s endorsement. “I would love his endorsement and I’m going to try to earn it.”