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Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta wins US House seat

November 3, 2010 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Republican mayor of Hazleton, whose get-tough policies on illegal immigrants attracted national attention, on Tuesday won a U.S. House seat in Pennsylvania that was in Democratic hands for 26 years.

Mayor Lou Barletta defeated Rep. Paul Kanjorski on Tuesday after losing to him in 2002 and 2008. Barletta shot to national prominence in 2006 for his tough stance on illegal immigration but retooled his message to focus on jobs and the economy.

Barletta campaigned on the sluggish economy and 10 percent unemployment in the predominantly Democratic district that includes Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and parts of the Pocono Mountains.

Hazleton approved a law in 2006 to deny business permits to companies that employ illegal immigrants, fine landlords who rent to them, and require tenants to register and pay for a rental permit.

A federal judge struck it down as unconstitutional.

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Republicans seized their best chance in years of knocking off the incumbent, a staunch ally of President Barack Obama.

Barletta, 54, hammered Kanjorski for supporting Obama administration priorities like the health care overhaul, the economic stimulus and the so-called cap-and-trade energy bill.

Kanjorski, 73, largely shunned the campaign trail, preferring instead to get his message out through TV and radio commercials that attacked Barletta’s fiscal stewardship of Hazleton.