The last match-up between Democrat Paul Kanjorski and Republican Lou Barletta was fairly close, despite previous strong finishes for Kanjorski and the overall pro-Democrat results of 2008. This year is a bad one for Democrats, so Kanjorski’s seat is in serious jeopardy of a takeover from the Republican party.
Candidates for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes all or parts of Columbia, Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and the cities of Scranton, Hazleton, East Stroudsburg, and Wilkes-Barre. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Paul E. Kanjorski
Political experience: Kanjorski has been the district’s representative since 1985. He is the chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
Professional experience: Prior to entering politics, Kanjorski was a trial attorney. He served in the Army during the early 1960s.
Key issues: Kanjorski takes pride in creating a National Wildlife Refuge in Cherry Valley and his role in the Earth Conservancy. He wants to see forests and open spaces preserved in the 11th District. Additionally, he is concerned that home ownership is in danger, due to the mortgage marketplace issues, and he supported the Dodd-Frank Act to protect homeowners from questionable loan practices.
He says his vote for the Recovery Act helped create and save millions of jobs. He wants to increase the minimum wage, opposes NAFTA and other trade deals he thinks puts American jobs at risk and is pleased that Congress created greater protections against Wall Street excesses, according to his website.
Endorsements: The Luzerne County Citizen’s Voice and Scranton City Councilman Pat Rogan have endorsed Kanjorski.
Chances of maintaining his seat: In a swing district still struggling with the economic downturn, Kanjorski is a target for the GOP. He is well-funded, with $1,357,206 in his campaign war chest in mid September, as compared to Barletta who has $568,146, according to OpenSecrets.org. He is in a toss-up region with demographics that favor him, but just barely. He may be re-elected, but with the current political climate it seems he is in some serious trouble.
Candidate: Lou J. Barletta
Political experience: Barletta has been the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., since 2000. He was elected to Hazleton City Council in 1998. He has been appointed to various local government committees.
Professional experience: Barletta owned Interstate Road Marking Corporation, a pavement marking company until 2000.
Key issues: Social Security, which is meant to benefit seniors, is being raided for excess spending, Barletta says, and it must be properly protected. He is concerned that Democrats or Republicans will not protect seniors’ money.
Additionally, his website indicates he is concerned national security has not been adequately covered, as the Christmas Day bombing illustrated. He wants the Air Marshall program expanded, and he’d like terrorists or would-be terrorists considered enemy combatants.
Endorsements: Independence Hall Tea Party PAC and Democrat Brian Kelly, Kanjorski’s primary opponent, have endorsed Barletta.
Chances of unseating Paul E. Kanjorski: Barletta voted for the health care reform bill and for TARP, both unpopular bills, though he steered clear of the stimulus. It may not be enough to save him as he faces the Hazleton mayor he was up against in 2008. What he lacks in money, Barletta makes up for with Republican and independent enthusiasm for change.
Key Differences between Lou Barletta and Paul E. Kanjorski
Health care: The incumbent, Kanjorski, voted yes on health care reform, saying it expanded affordable health care. He says he likes that it stops insurance companies from denying people access due to pre-existing conditions, lets young people stay on their parents’ insurance longer and covers the Medicare Part D coverage gap. Barletta agrees with the idea of more affordable health care, but he wants to reform insurance by preventing companies from denying part-time employees access and by giving incentives to businesses to provide health care. But he opposes the Obama reforms.
Spending: This is an issue that will harm national security, Barletta says. He contends that our financial weakness will make it impossible to negotiate with countries like China that have bought up $800 billion in American treasury securities. He has no problem blaming both Republicans and Democrats for a “blank-check attitude” in Washington and wants to stop the spending climate. Kajorski was for the PAY-AS-YOU-GO Act of 2010, requiring all legislation must be paid for and that the deficit can’t be added to — except for emergencies. He wants to see a commission created with the purpose of balancing the budget and cutting the deficit.
Values: Kanjorski opposes gun restrictions and abortion on demand; he’s a supporter of the Hyde Amendment prohibiting the federal funding of abortion. For his part, Barletta is a gun owner and NRA member. He supported the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Washington D.C. gun ban. He wants to assure that Congressional health care reforms never ration life-saving procedures. He opposes expanding or establishing abortion, cloning or euthanasia.
Pennsylvania‘s 11th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Pennsylvania 11th District is located in northeastern Pennsylvania, bordering New Jersey. It includes the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton.
2008 results: Kanjorski defeated Barletta 52 percent to 48 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 87.6 percent of the district is white, 4.4 percent black, 5.7 percent Hispanic, 1.2 percent Asian and 0.1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Pennsylvania 11th District a rating of D+4, awarding an edge to Democratic voters in this district.