Northeast Pa was once a Democratic stronghold, but the region in recent years has trended towards the GOP. Jim Bognet, a former Trump administration appointee attempting to unseat Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) in the 8th Congressional District, attempts to make the case that the Democratic Party and their congressman are now out of touch with the region as the party has evolved over the years.
“The era of big government is over,” President Bill Clinton says during his 1996 State of the Union Address, which is featured at the beginning of Bognet’s 30 second TV ad titled, “Changed.”
“Matt Cartwright and Democrats have changed a lot since then,” a voiceover says, while the screen moves from an image of Clinton and the late Gov. Bob Casey to Cartwright side-by-side with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Today Democrats want to eliminate private health insurance and raise our taxes,” the voiceover continues. “And Cartwright backs higher taxes on social security. He’s even for defunding the police.”
The ad continues by saying that COVID “wreaks havoc,” while Cartwright “flies private to Washington.”
The Cartwright campaign said that the ad is riddled with lies and criticizes Bognet’s career working for various GOP candidates across the country, who have advocated for entitlement reforms.
“National Republicans poke their heads up every two years to try and deceive Northeastern Pennsylvanians with distortions and lies about Matt Cartwright, but they never stick,” said Cartwright spokesman Matt Slavoski. “While Jim Bognet spent years working coast-to-coast pushing policies that would slash your hard-earned Social Security benefits, the people in this community saw Congressman Cartwright’s real record. Northeastern Pennsylvanians know Congressman Cartwright as a strong advocate for improving their health care, public safety, and earned benefits.”
A Philadelphia Inquirer analysis with Politifact disputes the attack from the Bognet campaign that Cartwright supports defunding the police. The analysis concluded that Cartwright did not call for defunding the police, but instead “explained to a participant in a recent virtual listening session that public officials in places like Wilkes-Barre, and in Congress, have the power to decide how public funds are spent on the police, as for any other public agency.” In the same event, Cartwright said he does not support defunding the police.
Cartwright has also been on the attack over healthcare and entitlement funding in TV ads over the past few months. Cartwright is also a co-sponsor for H.R. 860, Social Security 2100 Act, that would cut taxes for some Social Security recipients.
Three national ratings outlets have the race leaning in Cartwright’s favor. Inside Elections lists the race in PA8 as Likely Democratic, while Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report have it as Leans Democratic.