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Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta (R) is likely this week to announce his third bid against Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), according to a Republican source with knowledge of his impending campaign.
Barlettas entrance into the race likely makes this a top-tier contest for Republicans, who are hoping to pick up a couple of House seats in the Keystone State next year. Kanjorski defeated Barletta in 2008, 52 percent to 48 percent, even though public polls showed the popular small-town mayor in the lead for several months leading up to Election Day.
National Republicans see Barletta as their best candidate to defeat Kanjorski in the 11th district, which President Barack Obama carried last year with 57 percent. National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tory Mazzola said in a statement that House Republicans believe the 13-term lawmaker is still vulnerable this cycle.
Kanjorski is feeling pressure on both sides with a primary on his left and potentially a looming general election battle, Mazzola said. Northeastern Pennsylvanians are frustrated with a career politician who has a knack for ethical lapses and has done little to create jobs.
Barletta gained national recognition in the past few years for implementing anti-illegal-immigration ordinances in his small northeastern Pennsylvania town. He ran against Kanjorski in 2002 as well, but lost 56 percent to 42 percent.
A request for comment to Barlettas office was not immediately returned.