WILKES-BARRE — With less than two months left in Congress, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta on Wednesday said he looks forward to spending more time with his family, especially his grandson who is battling cancer.
And he says he can look back with pride on what he was able to accomplish in office.
Barletta, R-Hazleton, lost his battle to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Scranton in Tuesday’s election.
“I have absolutely no regrets,” Barletta said on deciding to take on Casey, even though he likely would’ve been re-elected to the U.S. House. “I went to Washington to serve, not just for a job. In my four terms in Congress, I feel I did a good job for the people of Pennsylvania and the country. I felt I could do even more in the Senate.”
According to still unofficial totals, Casey received 2,738,573 votes, or 56.5 percent of ballots cast, to 2,107,326 for Barletta.
Barletta did win 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, including Luzerne County. Full results can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of State website: www.electionreturns.pa.gov.
“I’m really happy that I won far more counties than Sen. Casey and I received more than 2 million votes,” Barletta said. “I thought we ran a good campaign.”
Barletta said Casey won the election in two areas — Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
In Philadelphia County, Casey received 461,517 votes to 64,747 for Barletta — that’s 87 percent of votes cast to just 12 percent.
In Allegheny County which covers the Pittsburgh area, Casey received 351,796 tallies to Barletta’s 174,846.
That’s a difference of 573,720 in those two metropolitan areas alone, which accounts for about 90 percent of Casey’s margin of victory.
“That pretty much decided the election,” Barletta said.
Barletta said Casey “had so much money” to spend during the campaign, making it possible for him to flood the airwaves in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with his television advertisements.
“I just didn’t have that kind of money,” said the challenger.
‘Feel very blessed’
Barletta said the last two months of the campaign found him with a very heavy heart. His brother, Francis, passed away and his grandson, Jordan, 18 months, was undergoing treatment for cancer.
“I just wanted to be home and be around my family,” Barletta said.
Looking back, he’s amazed at how his political star rose over the years.
“Who would have thought that a kid from Hazleton would serve three terms as mayor of the city and then eight years in Congress?” Barletta asked. “I feel very blessed to have had these opportunities.”
Barletta said he will work hard to finish out his term in the House and then devote most of his time to his family.
“I’m not in any hurry to find another job,” he said. “I’ll see what’s out there. I’m sure I will find a job somewhere.”
Asked if he had heard from President Donald Trump since the election, Barletta said, “Not yet.” He added that he has not had any discussions with anybody connected with the Trump Administration about a possible position come January.
“I decided to try for this Senate seat and fell short. I knew I was going up against the most famous name in Pennsylvania politics, but I believed I had a chance to win.”
Barletta said when Trump asked him to run for the Senate, he took it seriously.
“When the president asks, you have to take it seriously,” he said.
Barletta was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump’s candidacy in 2016, and he served as co-chair of Trump’s Pennsylvania campaign. He also served on Trump’s transition team after the 2016 election.
Pennsylvania has been credited with giving Trump the presidency, especially with Luzerne County giving him a large plurality that carried him to victory in the state and earning its 20 electoral votes.
Barletta said he’s not sure if he will return to Washington to work in the Trump Administration, or return to the private sector. He noted that he and his wife once owned a line-painting business in Hazleton.
“I can always go back to painting lines,” he said.
Barletta was proud to help many veterans receive medals they earned in service to their country; to work with state Sen. John Yudichak in establishing the SHINE after-school program in Luzerne County; to chair the committee that saved more than $4.5 billion in federal property expenses; and to lead the effort to reform FEMA regulations.
Barletta also said he is proud to have been able to make illegal immigration a national concern.
He recalled his 2013 fight on behalf of then 10-year-old Pennsylvania resident Sarah Murnaghan, who was in need of a lung transplant. The girl did get the transplant.
Barletta said he can walk away from politics knowing he has helped a lot of citizens.
“I just wish I could have served the people longer,” he said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.