Republican Governor Candidate Lou Barletta Visits Clarion
(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)
Clarion County Republican Committee Chairman Rick Rathfon told exploreClarion.com the event, which was held at the Perkins restaurant in Clarion, was a bit spur-of-the-moment, as Barletta was passing through the area on his way to events in Erie and Westmoreland County and wanted to stop for a quick meal and to meet with some local Republican constituents.
There were about 25 people in attendance, and Barletta shared with them some of the things he’d like to address as governor, as well as reasons he decided to run for governor, including his dissatisfaction with many of Governor Wolf’s decisions for mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was excellent. He was straight and to the point,” Rathfon said.
A native of Hazleton, Pa., Barletta’s political career kicked off when he won a seat on the Hazleton City Council in 1998. He built further on his career by then winning the mayoral position in 1999 and being reelected in 2003 and 2007. During his tenure there, he won the Governor’s Award for Fiscal Accountability and Best Management Practices and was appointed to the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities by President George W. Bush.
Barletta also made a run as the Republican candidate in the 11th congressional district in 2002; however, he lost to Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski.
He also made headlines during his tenure in Hazleton for his efforts opposing illegal immigration, introducing an ordinance in 2006 that would have allowed the city to deny a business permit to any employer who was found to hire illegal immigrants. The ordinance also gave the city the authority to fine landlords up to $1,000 for leasing property to illegal immigrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) became involved, suing in Federal District Court to block the ordinance, which also made English the official language of the city and prohibited city employees from translating documents into any language without official authorization.
The ordinance was eventually ruled unconstitutional in July 2007 based on interference with federal immigration laws and violation of due process for employers, landlords, and individuals. The ruling was then upheld during a September 2010 appeal and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case when it was rather appealed.
While his landmark legislation was still moving through the court system, Barletta continued to pursue his political aspirations, facing off against Kanjorski for the second time in 2010 in a hotly contested race. He lost by a narrow margin of just 48-52 percent.
As it turned out, it was the third time that was a charm for Barletta, as he was finally able to unseat Kanjorski in the 2010 election, winning by a wider 55-45 percent margin. He was then reelected in 2012, 2014, and 2016.
During his tenure in the House, Barletta proposed several immigration bills, including the much-debated Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act of 2011 that would have denied federal funding to cities or municipalities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
He also introduced a bill to repeal one of the provisions of the Affordable Car Act, which required that volunteer emergency responders be offered healthcare by the organization they volunteer with, in 2014.
More recently, Barletta’s proposed Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which amended a prior bill so that federal disaster assistance could be used to directly administer both permanent and temporary housing for disaster victims, was merged into the FAA Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law in October 2018.
In 2018, Barletta also made a run for the U.S. Senate, seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Bob Casey Jr. As a staunch supporter of then-president Donald Trump, Barletta secured the Republican nomination, but was unable to defeat Casey in the general election.
Barletta announced his candidacy for Governor on Monday, May 17, in a video that also included a scathing assessment of Governor Wolf’s performance in office the last few years, focusing on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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