No less than half a dozen Republicans are competing to challenge U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, the Democrat representing Pennsylvania’s 8th District in Congress, in November.
Some have held elected office already; some haven’t. Two are veterans who were injured in Afghanistan. One ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2016.
One of them will be chosen in the Republican primary election on April 28.
Candidates need 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. The filing deadline is Feb. 18.
The district includes all of Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne counties and parts of Luzerne and Monroe counties.
Several of Cartwright’s potential opponents were collecting signatures Wednesday evening at Peppe’s Bistro in East Stroudsburg: Jim Bognet, Earl Granville and Harry Haas.
Here are brief introductions to the six men hoping to unseat Cartwright:
Bognet, a former Trump administration appointee in the Export-Import Bank, delivered an anti-impeachment message in a video announcing his run: “Stand with President Trump, and let‘s send impeachment enabler Matt Cartwright packing.”
He sees the number of Republicans in the primary as “an indication of how bad (Cartwright)’s done in office” and a response to Cartwright’s support for impeachment.
A Hazleton native, Bognet previously worked for former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11).
He outlined his top priorities Wednesday at Peppe’s: back Trump; fight illegal immigration and build a wall on the southern border; combat the opioid crisis with more counseling and help for drug users and “severe penalties” including death for drug traffickers; and bring good jobs to the area.
Cammisa is a young candidate back in Pennsylvania after graduating from the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service in Texas.
“After graduation I heard a calling to come back home,” his website says. “This is where I grew up, where my family is, where my home is. And I believe I could make a difference, I can change that belief that drove me and so many other young people away.”
His priorities include affordable health care and education and eliminating waste based on Government Accountability Office reports.
Daniels is a former police officer and an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart after he “was wounded during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2012,” according to his website.
Later, he founded National Cannabis Security Services, a company providing security for the legal marijuana industry.
Among his top issues is pushing to limit representatives to three two-year terms. Like many of his primary competitors, his website also notes support for Trump, the Second Amendment and border security, among other issues.
Granville is an Army veteran whose left leg was amputated after an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
His recovery included running, from 5Ks to marathons. He has worked with Warrior Strong and Operation Enduring Warrior.
His volunteer work helped him realize “I don’t need a uniform to serve my country.”
His top issues include the mental health of veterans (PTSD isn’t the only challenge, he notes); helping people addicted to opioids without shunning them; and infrastructure.
Granville has been endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Haas is a Luzerne County Council member and a Dallas School District history teacher.
He said Wednesday he’s running on his “real record and real experience,” including cutting Luzerne County’s debt by turning down purchases and new positions in government.
Haas wants to apply a similar line-by-line approach to the federal budget – something he recognizes would be a bigger task and require agreement from more fellow legislators than it does in Luzerne County.
He sees the 8th District as “tired of political antics” and says the House should have spent its time on issues like infrastructure rather than impeachment.
A former Hazleton mayor, Marsicano ran as a Democrat in the Pennsylvania’s 11th District in 2016. He lost to another former Hazleton mayor, incumbent Republican Rep. Lou Barletta.
Marsicano says the Democratic Party changed, not him.
“My positions have not changed since 2016 – the principles that I ran on and the issues that are at the forefront of my campaign are no different than they were in 2016,” he wrote in a post titled “Why I Switched: The Truth About The Democratic Party.”
His website includes positions on a dozen issues, with “Fighting The Pelosi Machine” listed first.
Like several of his Republican competitors, Marsicano seeks to tie Cartwright closely to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Help us stick it to Matt Cartwright and all of Nancy Pelosi’s shills in Congress,” reads text above the options to donate money to Marsicano or volunteer.
Bognet calls Cartwright Pelosi’s “lapdog,” and Granville contrasts himself with Cartwright by saying on his website that he’d be “a Congressman who cares more about fighting for local families than simply following orders from Nancy Pelosi.”