By Alex Roarty
Paul Kanjorski began his general election TV ad campaign Friday evening with an intense criticism of GOP opponent Lou Barletta’s tenure as mayor of Hazleton, likely setting a tone for what will be a bitterly fought contest between the two old rivals in the 10th Congressional District.
The 30-second spot says during Barletta’s 10 “long” years as “failed” mayor, he’s increased property taxes 70 percent and raised income taxes 20 percent. It also cites the city’s 15.6 percent unemployment rate, the highest in Pennsylvania.
“Times are tough for all, but the city is the worst run in the state,” a narrator says.
A spokesman said the campaign will be on the air through the Nov. 2 election. The Democratic incumbent is the third to hit the airwaves this week, joining Kathy Dahlkemper and Jason Altmire.
Barletta began running ads in July, although it’s unlikely he’s stayed on air in a major way since then. The Republican, who had roughly $230,000 on hand as of the last report, faces a nearly 5-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage to Kanjorski.
It’s the third time to two men have squared off against each other after Kanjorski narrowly escaped defeat in 2008, thanks in large part to President Barack Obama’s placement on the ticket. PoliticsPA rates it as the state’s most likely seat to change parties.
Update, 5:30 p.m.:
The Barletta campaign responded to the ad by saying running a negative TV spot two months before the election shows how desperate the incumbent is. Barletta will debate Kanjorski any time on taxes and job creation, said spokesman Shawn Kelly.
“Kanjorski has voted for the biggest job-crushing and tax-hiking bills in history – Obamacare and Cap and Trade. Kanjorski continues to offer nothing to the voters of this district,” he said. “There’s no reason to re-elect him, either by his actions as a congressman or in his commercials, so he’s trying to smear Lou Barletta.
“Lou Barletta received the Governor’s Award for Fiscal Responsibility and Best Management Practices and was selected as the Best Mayor in Pennsylvania by his peers in 2008,” Kelly added. “Lou was re-elected as mayor with 90 percent of the vote. Who is a better judge of Lou Barletta’s job as mayor – the voters of Hazleton or a career Washington politician?”