- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2007

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who gained national attention by targeting illegal aliens living in his small northeastern Pennsylvania city, cruised to the Republican nomination for a third term yesterday — and unexpectedly won the Democratic nomination, too.

Mr. Barletta trounced challenger Dee Deakos with nearly 94 percent of the vote. And he beat former Mayor Michael Marsicano in a bid for the Democratic nomination by staging a last-minute write-in campaign, all but guaranteeing himself another term, unofficial returns showed.

“I think the message is clear,” Mr. Barletta said. “The people of Hazleton want me to keep fighting for them.”

The Republican mayor said Democrats kept telling him that they wished they could vote for him in the primary. So, about a week ago, he mailed instructions to Democratic voters on how to write in his name.

Mr. Marsicano, a retired airline pilot who was Hazleton’s mayor from 1996 to 2000, appeared alone on the Democratic ballot.

Mr. Barletta, a businessman who took office in 2000, proposed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act last year after four illegal aliens were charged with fatally shooting a man.

The measure, on hold because of a legal challenge by Hispanic groups and activists, was approved last summer and emulated by other towns and cities. It would penalize landlords who rent to illegal aliens and businesses that hire them.

Mr. Barletta said he was gratified, particularly given that Democrats hold a 2-1 registration edge over Republicans in the city of about 25,000.

Also yesterday, two Hispanic candidates lost their primary bids for open seats on the Hazleton City Council. One of the candidates, Rudy Espinal, is a plaintiff in the illegal alien lawsuit.

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