It is one of the GOP’s big targets this fall and two men are running for the Republican nod for the 8th Congressional District and a shot at Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna).
Cartwright is seeking his sixth two-year term in PA-08 which contains all of Lackawanna, Pike and Warren Counties, part of Luzerne County, including the cities of Hazleton, Nanticoke, Pittstown and Wilkes-Barre, and part of Monroe County.
A pair of Hazleton-area residents – Jim Bognet and Mike Marsicano – are competing for the opportunity.
Bognet, 46, is the owner of JRB Strategies, a communications and management consulting company, and a former Trump administration official.
Marsicano, 73, is a former mayor and state trooper who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2016.
The two are not strangers in the political arena. Bognet slammed Marsicano for his previous party affiliation, claiming he voted for Hillary Clinton. Marsicano responded by saying Bognet was a Clinton supporter and did not vote for Trump in 2016, in addition to working on Mitt Romney’s losing presidential run in 2012.
Bognet won the 2020 nomination in a six-man race by four points over Teddy Daniels and by 15 over Marsicano. Cartwright held off Bognet, 52-48, in the general election.
The Cook Political Report rates the 8th as a toss-up in November in a district that sees Democrats with a 48-37 registration advantage.
Bognet raised nearly $644,000 last quarter and entered the spring with $672,000 on hand, while Marsicano raised $400,000 from January through March and had $358,000 cash on hand on March 31.
Both men share views on key issues. Both favor term limits for members of Congress, support gun rights, oppose abortion, want to ensure fair elections and want to reinstate Trump’s immigration policies including building a border wall and increasing enforcement.
But on Tuesday, Bognet received the all-important endorsement from Trump and will ride that support into the primary.
The following Q and A is provided by The Pocono Record.
What is the top issue facing the office and your plans to address it?
Cartwright: Creating and retaining good-paying jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the top issue. My work in Congress centers on bringing companies to the area, expanding opportunity for businesses already here through federal investment, and making new connections for businesses in growth areas like aerospace, alternative energy, and transportation development.
Bognet: We are facing several crucial issues today, including record illegal immigration caused by the Biden Administration’s failed border policy and sky-high inflation that is wreaking havoc on small businesses and the middle class. We must not let Biden repeal Title 42, the remain in Mexico policy President Trump rightly implemented. In Congress, I will work to create good jobs, end the reckless spending that is fueling the runaway inflation, and stop inflation that’s hurting Pennsylvanians.
Marsicano: did not respond to Pocono Record questions.
What would you do to improve the nation’s criminal justice system?
Cartwright: As Chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, I have passed increases for community policing and assistance for local governments to maintain public safety, while at the same time resolving community problems without violence. I have forwarded funding to fight gang activities, fight bias, promote justice system reform, combat hate crimes and violence against women, and create new mental health collaborations to improve public safety.
Bognet: First off, I will attack soft-on-crime prosecutors elected with money from Democratic elitists like George Soros and AOC who want to defund the police. Abolishing bail in some states was a horrible idea, and it puts people at risk. Federal action should be taken to restore bail requirements. We must be tougher on repeat offenders and help our great law enforcement personnel any way we can. I would significantly increase penalties on drug trafficking kingpins.
What will you do to ensure all voters have equal access to free and fair elections?
Cartwright: I support clean and fair elections and have voted for significant reforms as part of the For the People Act. They include protecting states’ voting and vote count systems, increasing voting hours, shining a light on dark money in politics by requiring donor disclosure, expanding conflict of interest laws, and closing influence loopholes for lobbyists. My Time Off to Vote Act would guarantee paid leave to vote in a federal election.
Bognet: The United States is supposed to be the gold standard for democracy, and we must have fair elections to live up to our Constitution. Election integrity should not be a blue or red issue; every American deserves fair and honest elections. I am a strong supporter of mandatory Voter-ID and ELIMINATING Act 77, which allows for statewide no-excuse mail-in voting.
Health care costs continue to skyrocket. How will you address the rising cost of medical care and prescription drugs?
Cartwright: I support giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors. Skyrocketing drug costs are weighing on Americans, and this change is overdue. I also voted this Congress to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month, and we have ended the financial disruption caused by surprise medical bills. Keeping Medicare, Medicaid, and VA hospitals – and their patients – on sound financial footing is also a budget priority for me.
Bognet: Every American deserves high quality health care they can afford. Democrats in Congress want to double down on socialized medicine and usher in a new era of higher prices, less access and greater control by government bureaucrats. Socialized medicine is not the answer to our health care challenges. I will work to stop the skyrocketing increases brought on by Biden, Pelosi, and Rep. Matt Cartwright’s doomed policies, ensuring every American has access to affordable health care.
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