Pat Toomey endorses Lou Barletta in Pa. Senate race
Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is backing U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in the Hazleton congressman’s bid this year to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.
In a video announcing his endorsement in the contested GOP primary, Toomey described Barletta as “a trusted conservative and a relentless fighter for hard-working Pennsylvanians.” He cited Barletta’s efforts to curb illegal immigration and his opposition to Obamacare specifically.
“When we recently needed an ally in the House to pass the most sweeping tax reforms in a generation, Lou was there every step of the way,” Toomey said in a statement. “It’s time we all unite behind Lou and support him with our time, our energy, and most of all, with our vote.”
Barletta’s fellow U.S. House Republicans have lined up publicly in support of him, while top GOP leaders in the Pennsylvania Legislature have announced support for one of their fellow lawmakers, state Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver County.
Barletta also drew an endorsement edge in recent straw polls of Republican State Committee members from northeastern and central Pennsylvania – regions overlapping with his U.S. House district.
In his endorsement, Toomey noted the massive amount of money spent by the candidates and outside interest groups in his own 2016 re-election battle, which set national records for spending in a Senate race. The Republican senator said he expects this year’s race also will draw significant spending from national advocacy groups.
So far, Casey’s re-election bid for U.S. Senate has not been targeted by political analysts as among the top competitive nationally, despite the Democratic incumbent running in a state won by Republican President Donald Trump in 2016.
But Barletta was an early Trump ally, lending a national dynamic to the contest if he is successful in the May 15 primary. Trump has publicly encouraged Barletta’s candidacy, and a general election battle with Barletta on the ticket would likely be viewed as a referendum on the president.
Casey reported last week that he had $8.6 million on hand at the end of 2017. Barletta’s campaign said his next finance report, due at the end of the month, will show he had close to $1.1. million on Dec. 31.