I had the pleasure of campaigning for Lou Barletta this weekend with a group of D.C. College Republicans. Mr. Barletta, the current Mayor of Hazelton, PA, is running against the very elderly and senile Paul Kanjorski, a man who has failed the people of Northeastern PA as a Congressman since 1985.
Friday night I hopped on a bus outside the RNC, and four hours later I was in Wilkes-Barre, PA, one of three main urban centers within Pa’s 11th district (the other two are Scranton and Hazelton). Next morning, I was phone-banking for Barletta at the W-B victory center. The atmosphere at this place was amazing. Lots of mediocre free food (bagels, for instance, of which I ate ten), senior citizens, college kids bused up from D.C., campaign signs, and little kids with coloring books.
The volunteers believe in their candidate. When they call to bother you, it is out of concern for the country, not because they like pestering you during the football game. People should stop complaining whenever they get lots of campaign calls. This is what a democracy is about. If you don’t like it, move to Cuba. No democracy, no telephones.
By the end of Saturday, I was pretty tired from making hundreds of phone calls. Just to keep from going insane, I would make up funny names and use funny accents. For instance, I might say “Hello, I’m Yuri Dick, calling to reminding you that Election Day is this Tuesday…”
Yes, most of the people you call are dicks, so saying “your a dick” is pretty much just telling the truth. But for every twenty bad calls you get one really nice person on the line, like a senior citizen who expressed dismay at the negative campaign ads (I assured her that it was Kanjorski, not Lou Barletta, who has supported cutting back medicare). Or the housewife, who, when asked if she was voting for “Republican Lou Barletta for Congress,” said “I don’t know, I think we are Democrats.” After I insisted that Democrats are allowed to vote for Republican candidates, she called for her husband who corrected her. “We’re voting for Barletta,” he told her. While it was good to speak with Democrats who support Mr. Barletta, I was kind of shocked that the wife was told by her husband who to vote for, although I would have been more troubled if he told her to vote for Kanjorski.
That night, Mayor Barletta visited the victory center. Not only is he a nice guy, you can tell he is committed to saving this country. As Mayor of Hazelton, he fought hard against illegal immigration that was hurting his city. Unfortunately, activist federal courts overturned Hazelton’s reasonable law that aimed to keep businesses from hiring illegals. Even if the courts don’t like Hazelton’s actions, the citizens do: Mayor Bareletta has been reelected twice since taking office in 2000, getting large majorities each time (even getting both the Republican and Democratic nominations).
Sunday, we did a “lit drop.” In other words, we walked from door to door hanging papers from peoples’ doors (and avoiding angry-looking dogs). That afternoon, we went to the Hazelton Victory Center, where the campaign is headquartered. After a forum on the campaign (which Kanjorski skipped), Mayor Barletta visited the Hazelton office and we got our picture taken with him.
By most accounts, Mayor Barletta leads Kanjorski in the polls. But that lead, relatively narrow at single digits, does not guarantee victory. Lou Barletta ran against Kanjorski twice before, in 2002 and 2008, coming within a few percentage points of victory in the later campaign. If Lou can nearly win in an Obama/Democrat wave election, he can win this time during a Republican wave. We need more like him in Congress. He’s a public servant, not a career politician like his opponent.
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