Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Former Hazleton, PA Mayor Lou Barletta Loses GOP Primary for Pennsylvania Governor



The primaries drew much attention yesterday.  In PennsylvaniaDoug Mastriano, described as "a far-right state senator," is the projected winner of Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for governor.  He easily bested former Hazleton, Pennsylvania Mayor and Congressman Lou Berletta, who championed an anti-immigrant ordinance in Hazleton that at the time made national news.  The Hazleton law "made it illegal for unauthorized immigrants to rent housing and for landlords to rent to individuals they knew to be unauthorized. With the passage of its Illegal Immigration Relief Ordinance in July 2006, Hazleton catapulted itself onto the national political stage and became something of a cause celebre for proponents of state and local activism in immigration enforcement."  

The  courts invalidated the immigration enforcement ordinance and it never went into effect.  In the end, Hazleton was ordered to pay attorneys fees to plaintiffs of $1.4 million in attorneys fees.  The city also paid a hefty amount in fees to anti-immigrant activist Kris Kobach,, who unsuccessfully defended the constitutionality of the ordinance.

On his gubernatorial campaign website, Berletta proclaimed that

"As mayor of Hazleton, Barletta learned firsthand that immigration is not solely a federal issue – it matters who holds office in states as well. He was the first mayor in the country to pass a local ordinance standing up against illegal immigration and was promptly sued by the ACLU. As a member of Congress, he fought every day to protect our borders and strengthen our laws. As governor, Barletta will maintain his strong stance against illegal immigration, as a public safety issue, as job protection for Pennsylvania workers, and as a public health issue."


As the campaign concluded, Lou Barletta was pushed by the Republican establishment.  "That might sound odd. The former congressman was among Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in 2016 — at a time when most national Republicans either didn’t take him seriously or desperately sought to elect anyone else."  Still, Barletta was seen by some Pennsylvania Republican Party leaders as their last best chance to stop front-runner Doug Mastriano.  The fact that Barletta, an ardent anti-immigrant leader, is viewed as a less extreme "moderate" should be sobering.


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