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Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor

Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor
© Greg Nash

Former Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor Republicans vie for Trump's mantle in Pa. Senate primary MORE (R-Pa.), who challenged Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate filibuster fight throws Democrats' wish list into limbo Parliamentarian changes Senate calculus for Biden agenda Top union unveils national town hall strategy to push Biden's jobs plan MORE (D-Pa.) for his seat in 2018, is running for Pennsylvania governor.

Barletta becomes the most prominent Republican yet to jump into the race to succeed Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfPennsylvania Senate votes to end governor's emergency declaration for COVID-19 Governors can protect civil liberties, too Pennsylvania voters back limits on governor's emergency powers MORE, who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection next year.

In a video announcing his candidacy on Monday, Barletta delivered a scathing assessment of Wolf’s tenure in office, criticizing him in particular over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns imposed amid the outbreak.

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“The politicians in Harrisburg took too much power, and we all know what happens when you give politicians and bureaucrats more power,” Barletta said. “They’ll never give it back to us.”

“We need to take back our commonwealth,” he later added. “We need to take back our livelihoods from the insiders in Harrisburg that have no idea the harm their lockdowns have done.”

Barletta already has an existing relationship with former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE, who carried Pennsylvania in the 2016 election and remains highly influential among Republican voters. 

Barletta was among the first members of Congress to endorse Trump’s 2016 White House bid, and Trump endorsed the former congressman in 2018 as he sought unsuccessfully to oust Casey.

Beyond his criticism of Wolf’s pandemic response, Barletta used his campaign announcement to echo a series of talking points that have become commonplace for Trump’s allies. 

He lamented how expanded mail-in voting in the 2020 election had undermined confidence in the elections process. And he criticized calls for racial justice that have gained new momentum over the past year, accusing proponents of such reforms of “putting our families in danger and insulting the memory of civil rights leaders.”

Other Republicans are said to be weighing their own bids for governor, including Barletta’s successor in Congress Rep. Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Pa.) and former U.S. Attorney William McSwain.