Politics

Trump Encouraging Barletta to Challenge Casey in Senate

Pennsylvania congressman was one of Trump's earliest supporters

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., is being pushed by President Donald Trump to run for Senate against Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is encouraging Rep Lou Barletta to run against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr., the Pennsylvania Republican confirmed Wednesday.

Barletta confirmed that Trump and others have encouraged him to challenge Casey, who is running for re-election in 2018. Barletta said he and Trump spoke over the phone Monday night, a conversation first reported by the The Associated Press

“[Trump] did encourage me. We had a conversation,” Barletta told reporters in the Speaker's Lobby off the House floor. “I’m not going to talk about what was discussed in that conversation, but it was about running for U.S. Senate.”

Barletta declined to say when he would make a decision about running, noting he needed to discuss his next steps with his family. 

GOP Rep. Mike Kelly is also considering a run against Casey, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Pennsylvania Senate race as Lean Democratic

Casey is one of 10 Democratic incumbent senators running for re-election in states that Trump won in November. Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 1 point, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win the Keystone State since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Barletta was an early Trump supporter and Trump’s campaign dubbed him and fellow Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tom Marino as “Thunder and Lightning.”

Barletta’s district lies in northeast Pennsylvania, once a Democratic stronghold where Barletta’s father was head of the Hazleton Democratic Party. Barletta became a Republican after helping a friend in a mayoral race and he said former President Ronald Reagan solidified his faith in the party.

— Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. 

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