- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rep. Lou Barletta won Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary Tuesday, setting up a challenge against two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in the fall in the swing state where redistricting also has emboldened Democrats in their drive to reclaim the House majority.

Mr. Barletta, a four-term lawmaker and supporter of President Trump’s tough immigration policies, easily defeated state Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver County by a margin of 63.1 percent to 36.9 percent, with all votes counted. He piled up margins of nearly eight-to-one in his home base of northeastern Pennsylvania and made a respectable showing in Mr. Christiana’s territory near Pittsburgh.

The president tweeted his congratulations Wednesday to Mr. Barletta.

“He will be a great Senator and will represent his people well - like they haven’t been represented in many years,” Mr. Trump said. “Lou is a friend of mine and a special guy, he will very much help MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

In his victory statement, Mr. Barletta took direct aim at the incumbent.

“The contrast between Senator Casey and me could not be clearer,” Mr. Barletta said. “I’ve been a blue-collar worker, a blue collar mayor, and a blue-collar congressman who fights for the American worker, stands tough against illegal immigration, and keeps our families safe. Bob Casey has resisted, rejected, and obstructed the president’s agenda at every turn.”

Mr. Trump recorded a robocall on the campaign’s final weekend, telling voters that he needs “my guy” Mr. Barletta to oust the liberal “disaster” Mr. Casey.

Mr. Casey, the first Democrat to win re-election to the Senate from Pennsylvania since 1962, ran unopposed in the primary. He has a campaign war chest of more than $10 million.

In the GOP primary for governor, state Sen. Scott Wagner defeated businessman and Army veteran Paul Mango for the chance to face off in November against Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who ran unopposed.

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack of Philadelphia lost his bid for re-election, coming in third in the Democratic primary after a series of personal scandals. Small-town mayor John Fetterman of Braddock won the party’s primary to become Mr. Wolf’s running mate in November.

Both parties plan to wage heavily funded campaigns in Pennsylvania in November, not only for the Senate seat but for many of the state’s House districts. Under a court-ordered redistricting plan that favors Democrats, seven of the state’s 18 congressional districts have no incumbent running.

Democrats are hoping to pick up four or more of those House seats, a large chunk of their goal of capturing 23 seats nationwide to reclaim the majority.

Republicans and the White House view the Senate contest between Mr. Barletta and Mr. Casey as one of their best opportunities to flip a seat. Mr. Trump captured the state in 2016 by less than one percentage point, becoming the first Republican to win Pennsylvania since 1988.

In the state’s House races, 84 candidates campaigned in the primaries for 18 seats. There were three times as many female candidates as there were two years ago.

In the closely watched 7th District, where moderate Republican Rep. Charlie Dent has retired, former Allentown city solicitor Susan Wild defeated pro-life Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and pastor Greg Edwards. In the GOP primary, ex-Olympian Marty Nothstein held a lead of 1 percentage point over former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Among the Democrats’ best pickup opportunities is the new 5th District, vacated by Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan, who resigned last month amid allegations of sexual harassment. In a crowded Democratic primary, school board member and attorney Mary Scanlon was declared the winner over Ashley Lunkenheimer and Rich Lazer, a former deputy of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who was endorsed by liberal Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and enjoyed the support of a super PAC that spent nearly $1 million.

In the newly drawn 14th District, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone lost his shot at redemption. Mr. Saccone had lost a heated contest against Democrat Conor Lamb for a congressional seat earlier this year in the nearby 18th District, despite an endorsement from Mr. Trump. Mr. Saccone met with defeat again Tuesday, coming in second behind Republican state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler by more than 10 percentage points.


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