Trump’s Political Godfather is Reportedly Running for Senate

Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, July 31, 2017

Lou Barletta

Lou Barletta (Credit Image: © David Swanson/TNS/ZUMAPRESS.com)

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) told GOP leaders he would run for Senate in 2018, becoming the highest-profile Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in what may be one of the most hotly contested races of 2018.

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You could make a case that the nation’s current arc began in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in 2006, when Barletta, then the city’s mayor, found himself on the defensive after passing a harsh new city ordinance designed to force undocumented immigrants to flee town.

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The so-called Illegal Immigration Relief Act targeted immigrants where they lived by making it a crime to lease housing to anyone without proper papers, and it was one of the first of what would become a nationwide push by conservative municipalities and states to encourage “self-deportation” by making life impossible for immigrants. Looking for help, Barletta placed a call to a young law professor in Kansas City named Kris Kobach. Barletta’s ordinance was going to get thrown out in the courts, but Kobach helped him draft a new one that he believed wouldn’t.

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Now Kobach is in charge of a Trump administration-led voter suppression project, and a possible candidate to be the next secretary of Homeland Security. And Barletta is angling for a promotion of his own; his election in 2018, in the tightest of swing states, would be a test of just how far Trumpism can rise.

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