Riding a wave of anti-incumbent fervor and voter anger, Republican Lou Barletta unseated incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski in their third face-off Tuesday night.
That the two campaigns had developed a deep mutual contempt through three hard-fought Congressional campaigns was hard to deny. That enmity was evident in this year’s race, which focused largely on the negative.
Kanjorski, a 13-term incumbent, narrowly won the 2008 race due to the coattails of Barack Obama’s Pennsylvania victory in the presidential election but Tuesday he had no such help.
“From an election standpoint, I don’t think the Democrats will have Obama to pull them through at the end of the day,” said Hazleton attorney Conrad Falvello, a longtime friend of Barletta and his 2008 campaign manager.
Barletta [the mayor of Hazleton] first rose to national prominence by seeking removal from Hazelton of illegal immigrants he said were instrumental in the city’s rising violent crime rate, while straining the financial resources of the school district and local hospital.
Barletta pushed through local ordinances requiring landlords to verify the legal status of tenants and requiring employers to check on the legality of employees. So far, the courts have ruled against the city and the matters are under appeal.