Morning Digest: GOP Rep. Lou Barletta will challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Leading Off

PA-Sen: Republican Rep. Lou Barletta made his long-expected Senate campaign official, leaving behind his solidly Republican 11th Congressional District to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. Barletta hadn’t completely shut the door on a gubernatorial bid until now, but that prospect hadn’t seemed as likely as a Senate campaign.

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Barletta first came to prominence as a harsh foe of undocumented immigration while serving as mayor of the small town of Hazleton in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region, making the congressman a sort of proto-Trump. He knocked off scandal-plagued Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski in a blue-leaning congressional district in the 2010 midterm wave after just barely coming up short in 2008. However, Republicans gave him a much redder seat in redistricting, and Barletta hasn’t faced a competitive general election ever since.

Barletta joins a crowded Republican primary that includes wealthy real estate developer Jeff Bartos, rich businessman Paul Addis, and state Reps. Jim Christiana and Rick Saccone. Bartos is already putting his money toward attacking Barletta, having recently launched a TV ad to tout his outsider credentials that briefly takes flashes the congressman’s picture while Bartos bashes “career politicians,” though he doesn’t call out Barletta by name.