Skip to comments.Kanjorski skips out on forum with Barletta
Posted on 10/16/2008 12:14:21 PM PDT by Born Conservative
EAST STROUDSBURG Congressman Paul Kanjorski, D-11, was a no-show Wednesday night.
The Kanjorski re-election campaign sent word 10 minutes before his scheduled forum with Republican challenger Lou Barletta that he wouldn't participate in the event at East Stroudsburg University.
The reason why depends on who you ask. A campaign spokesman said Kanjorski had a scheduling conflict. But an event organizer said she was told Kanjorski objected to a Barletta press release earlier Wednesday charging Kanjorski is "afraid" to debate Barletta.
The result was that Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, was the lone candidate to discuss his views and take questions from about 90 people including elected officials and local activists of both parties at Beers Lecture Hall. The forum, sponsored by the Monroe County NAACP and the ESU chapter of the American Democracy Project, also was broadcast on Blue Ridge Cable Channel 13.
Kanjorski instead went to a regional event for presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign workers in Scranton.
"The congressman is going to be attending an event (Wednesday night) with Sen. (Bob) Casey," Kanjorski campaign manager Joe Werner said when questioned by a reporter. "It was a last-minute conflict.
"It's not a matter of avoidance," Werner said when pressed for an explanation. "We're the ones who are taking tough stands on issues. We're the ones who are talking about fixing the economy."
Event moderator Ron Byrd called Werner to the podium and Werner touted Kanjorski's record of bringing money and projects to all five counties of the sprawling 11th District.
Werner didn't explain to the audience the reason for Kanjorski's absence. Byrd, who is NAACP chapter vice president, noted the lack of an explanation and cut off Werner's presentation.
"The congressman should have been here to make his own speech so your time is up," Byrd told him. "You said you wanted to make a statement and what you've done is make a campaign speech."
NAACP President Ylvonne Gonzalez said the Kanjorski campaign blamed a critical Barletta press release earlier Wednesday for Kanjorski's decision to skip the forum.
"The explanation that I was given is there was some sort of press release the Barletta campaign put out and he wasn't going to attend," she said.
The release, written by Barletta campaign manager Vince Galko, is titled: "Why is Paul Kanjorski afraid of Lou Barletta? Is Kanjorski afraid to go toe-to-toe with Lou? Tonight's event in Monroe County is the latest example."
The release said Kanjorski initially declined to participate in the forum, but offered to change his mind if the format was changed so that Barletta and Kanjorski wouldn't actually appear simultaneously. The final format called for Kanjorski to give a statement, take questions and leave, followed by Barletta making a similar separate appearance.
"Mr. Kanjorski strung the organizers along for weeks until finally declining," Galko wrote. "Then at the last minute, Paul Kanjorski said he will come to the event, but he will not debate Lou Barletta even though they will both be at the same location at the same time."
Barletta initially sought separate debates in Monroe, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon and Columbia counties. Kanjorski agreed to debate Barletta once, an Oct. 29 event on WVIA-TV.
Barletta went Wednesday as scheduled.
"Unfortunately not only for myself, but for you, we're not able to do this tonight," Barletta said. "I have for months asked for an opportunity to have debates.
"The forum was set up to suit the congressman's wishes," Barletta added. "I agreed to that because I thought you deserved an opportunity to hear both of us."
Barletta disputed Werner's contention that Kanjorski played a large role in saving the Tobyhanna Army Depot through several rounds of U.S. military installation closings.
"It was because of the hard work of the people who work there," Barletta said. "It's open because it deserves to be open."
He suggested Kanjorski is much closer to Republican President George Bush's policies than Barletta.
"If he's so opposed to President Bush's policies, why did he agree to bail out his Wall Street buddies?" said Barletta of the $850 million economic rescue package.
Barletta was asked by an ESU student from Hazleton how his nationally reported battle against illegal immigration in Hazleton has affected his stand on the Constitution's second-amendment right to bear arms.
"I sleep with a loaded gun right now," he said. "I've had my life threatened. I had my life threatened because I stand up for you and the community."
I think Kanjorski is toast in this election.
Seems that Barletta has this one pretty well wrapped up.
As of 9/30 Kanjorski's got $1.35M cash on hand and no debt. Barletta's numbers have not yet been updated.
Barletta passed the $1 million mark in fundraising this past week: http://www.timesleader.com/news/Barletta_says_he_has_the_bankroll_to_win_10-13-2008.html
I’m from Lou’s district. No, it is not over, thanks to our warped electorate. Kanjorski is running a phony hit-and-run campaign, and it’s unsurprising that this coward is unwilling to stand up and defend his record or his corruption. Best, Bob
Barletta said Kanjorski has out-spent him almost 10-to-1 but has not managed to distance himself from the Hazleton mayor.
I wish Barletta all the best. Saw part of his speech given as Hazleton mayor on the local PCN channel. He is exactly the kind of person we need in government.
If Mayor Barletta pulls this one out, he’s going to be the biggest star of the freshman class of 2008. I’d like to see him enter the House leadership immediately. Boehner and Blunt need to step aside as they have been completely useless and incompetent in this Congress.
I’m from there as well (Columbia County). I’ve NEVER seen as many Kanjorski ads and signs around since he’s been running (24 years). That tells me that he knows that he finally has a worthy opponent, and with all of the negative Kanjorski ads, that he knows the jig is almost up.
I agree with the warped electorate theory, but I still think that Cornerstone, the financial mess that he’s below the national radar but deeply involved in, the fact that he still considers the thief Charlie Rangel his “friend”, etc., etc., etc., will finally take it’s toll.
Check this out: http://www.nrcc.org/news/view_article.asp?ID=2679
Minority Whip at the minimum. If Boehner is kept as leader after January, the House GOP caucus will be able to meet in a men’s room after 2010.
Uh, that's "$850 billion," with a "B", Mr. Pierce.
Although it's understandable that a difference of three orders of magnitude is beyond the grasp of the average J-school scribbler, it's slightly surprising that the Pocono Record's budget apparently doesn't include a nickel or two for fact-checkers or proofreaders.
I love Lou and Kaj is scum. I think Lou wins this one and hopefully Murtha is going down with Kaj..
We need more Lous, Sarahs and Joe the Plumbers. :-)
I’m quite worried about the seniormost House Republican from PA (class of ‘94), Phil English. He’s been trailing in the polls behind some nobody rodent lady. That district hasn’t elected a rodent since 1974.
Coming from a dem area he HAS to fight to win.
Perhaps this is a factor in why Boehner and Blunt are milquetoasts.