Endorsement: Bob Casey Jr. for U.S. Senate

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In looking at this year’s race for U.S. Senate, Pennsylvania has a choice between incumbent, two-term U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.

For most of his two terms in the Senate, Casey has been a moderate (like his father, he is opposed to legalized abortion, although he has strongly supported access to birth control and family planning services) and is often called out by his Democratic colleagues as not being liberal enough. In his time in public office, he has stayed true to his Scranton-area roots, focusing on job growth, especially in the blue collar sector and staking out many middle of the road positions during his tenure. When state interests called for it, he has been able to work across the aisle with his fellow U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey.

However, since the election of Donald Trump as President, Casey has become more of a vocal voice — more loudly fighting for health care, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as being a strong opponent of Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In fact, in appearances this past weekend in Chester County, we’ve never seen Casey as passionate and fired up on crucial issues as he is right now. After a mostly quiet two terms in the Senate, he now seems poised to take up more of a leadership position.

Bartletta, however, since his days as Mayor of Hazelton, has shown a troubling streak of nativism and disregard for federal authority, in pushing anti-immigrant and anti-Spanish-language ordinances in defiance of federal law a decade ago.

He has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and his policies.

Since joining Congress in 2011, Barletta has not seemed to moderate his views — working to defund and oppose the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), including provisions to protect those with pre-existing conditions from expected large premium increases. He aggressively backed Trump’s immigration bans — later thrown out by federal courts. He was a strong proponent for the Republican tax plan, which appears to have grown the federal budget deficit without largely improving the income of most lower and middle class taxpayers.

Barletta’s positions would seem to be in opposition to much of those of the residents of Chester County — a county that depends on immigrant labor for much of our crucial agricultural industry. With a forward look toward an America that will likely be majority non-white within a couple of decades, it does not make sense to embrace policies, straight out the the 50s — the 1850s — in selecting a U.S. Senator.

Conversely, Casey has been a voice on a broad range of middle of the road, common sense policies, a rarity in today’s polarized political environment. We think his increasingly vocal stances will show him to be an even better advocate for the commonwealth and its people over the next six years.

The Times endorses Bob Casey, Jr. for U.S. Senate.

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