U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta has announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. as he looks to turn Sen. Bob Casey's seat to the GOP.
The Republican Congressman released a campaign video on Tuesday announcing his run for the seat held by the two-term Democrat.
"I don’t see running for the Senate to represent Pennsylvania as an opportunity. I see it as a responsibility," Barletta says in the video. "I wasn’t born with a famous last name. I was born into a home in Hazleton where we learned that with hard work, anything is possible."
The Pennsylvania Republican's entry into the race was widely expected after The Associated Press reported last month that Barletta had relayed his plans to GOP officials and activists.
Barletta, 61, the former mayor of the small Pennsylvania city of Hazleton (about 100 miles from Philadelphia), gained fame as a foe of illegal immigration. Barletta was urged to run by President Donald Trump. A press release accompanying the campaign video notes "Barletta was one of the first members of Congress to publicly endorse Donald Trump for president." Barletta also co-chaired Trump's presidential campaign and was on the executive committee of Trump's transition team.
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Barletta is in his fourth term representing a House district that stretches from south-central Pennsylvania's rolling farms through northeastern Pennsylvania's anthracite coal fields.
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Barletta won his House seat during the Republican midterm wave of 2010, aided by publicity from his time as mayor when he cracked down on immigrants in the country illegally.
Casey is running for a third, six-year term next year in a state with a 4-3 ratio registration edge over Republicans. Trump overcame that to become the first Republican since 1988 to capture Pennsylvania's electoral votes in the presidential race. Barletta notes his Congressional seat serves a population also dominated by Democrats, though he defeated 13-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Paul Kanjorski in 2010, after Kanjorski fended off Barletta challenges in 2002 and 2008.
Casey is one of 10 Democrats nationwide defending a seat next year in a state won by Trump.