He was the Republican brand in 2018 for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. He was endorsed by the president. It was Lou Barletta’s time.
Until it wasn’t.
Now, the former mayor of Hazleton and 11th district congressman finds himself in a race for the governor’s chair. But if cash is king … Barletta’s war chest is not competitive with other candidates. It may be the ultimate litmus test – how far can name recognition take you?
Barletta is eighth among the GOP candidates for governor in cash-on-hand, leading only Guy Ciarrocchi and Nche Zama among the top 10 fund-raising machines, with just over $243,000.
Three other candidates – Dave White, Jake Corman and Jason Richey – each have over $1 million in the bank, while Bill McSwain just received an infusion of cash from Commonwealth Partners. State senator Doug Mastriano of Franklin County seems to have taken over the MAGA lane after assisting the former president in his quest to overturn the 2020 election. Where does that leave Barletta?
”No other GOP primary candidate has the financial resources to come anywhere close to where Lou starts from in terms of built-in statewide name ID and grassroots organization,” Barletta campaign manager Jeremy Sheftel wrote in a memo to donors last week that was obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Lou doesn’t need to raise the most — he just needs to raise enough and the end-of-year numbers show that Lou is still ahead of the competition.”
However, May 17 is still a long way away. Barletta’s competitors have the ability to get their messages across the Commonwealth while the 66-year-old spent nearly three-quarters of the million dollars he raised in 2021.
Barletta’s campaign makes a salient point – with the money being poured into TV ads by the U.S. Senate candidates, there is little oxygen left for other candidates for local or statewide races.
“There has never been a political environment like this in PA history between the GOP Gov and GOP Senate primary,” the memo said, adding that no gubernatorial candidate “is going to have the resources to cut through that noise.”
Only time will tell if the Barletta brand can overcome the cash hurdles facing the campaign.