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Barletta gets help from Washington

Catholic University students work to help GOP challenger unseat longtime Democrat.

Backers for GOP challenger Lou Barletta and one for U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski show their allegiances on Public Square Monday.

CLARK VAN ORDEN/THE TIMES LEADER

WILKES-BARRE -- Thirty-five Republican students from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. came to the Wyoming Valley to help Republican congressional candidate Lou Barletta.

“(Democratic incumbent Paul) Kanjorski has Bill Clinton and a lot of money,” said organizer John Byars, a 19-year-old sophomore political science major. “Lou Barletta has us and our enthusiasm.”

Barletta, mayor of Hazleton, is challenging Kanjorski, a 12-term incumbent from Nanticoke, for the 11th District seat.

The students waved to passing motorists and yelled to passers-by Monday, urging them to vote for Barletta. A few students circled Public Square in a black Jeep, honking the horn and waving banners in support of the Republican hopeful.

The students arrived in the area Friday night and have been going door to door on behalf of Barletta. Byars said they have knocked on more than 5,000 doors so far.

Barletta said he was humbled to learn of the students’ support and said his campaign is picking up the tab for the students’ lodging and food.

“From the very start of this campaign, I’ve been humbled by the amount of support I’ve received from people all across this district and across the country,” Barletta said. “The fact that these students from Catholic University chose my race to volunteer on gives me such hope. I’m grateful for their help and the help I received from all those volunteering. This is good evidence that our message of courage and leadership is resonating with people of all ages.”

Byars, of Summit, N.J., said many of the 200 members of Catholic University of America Republicans – the largest student organization on campus -- are from eastern Pennsylvania. The group identified the 11th District race as one of the most critical congressional races in the country.

“Lou Barletta has accomplished a lot in Hazleton,” Byars said. “Kanjorski has no real accomplishments, except for securing pork barrel dollars for his family.”

“My classmates and fellow Republicans feel this is an extremely important race for the Republican Party, said Amanda Kohut, 21, a senior from New York City.

Kanjorski had one supporter on Public Square to counter the Barletta cheers. Kenny Brown, 19, a Wilkes University sophomore from Binghamton, N.Y., is an intern at the Barack Obama campaign office. He saw the rally for Barletta and decided to do his part on behalf of Obama and Kanjorski.

“One is better than none,” Brown said of his one-man rally. “You need to provide balance. I’m just doing what I can to make sure the other side is represented.”

Package safe

SCRANTON – A U.S. Postal Service inspector on Monday said a parcel addressed to Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta that was considered suspicious by a postal employee has been found to be safe.

Reggie Wade with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the parcel was processed through the Scranton Post Office, where a postal employee noticed suspicious markings on Monday.

Wade said an X-ray of the parcel illustrated it was non-hazardous.

Barletta permitted postal inspectors to open the parcel, Wade said.

Wade said the contents were found to be non-hazardous and non-threatening.

Wade said he couldn’t disclose the contents or from where the parcel was mailed.

Barletta is the Republican candidate for the 11th Congressional District. He is challenging 12-term Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski.

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