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Air Force veteran targets Barletta's Washington seat

Standard-Speaker - 4/25/2017

April 25--An Air Force veteran from Carlisle has announced his candidacy for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta's11th Congressional District seat.

The election for the position won't be held until 2018 but Robert "Alan" Howe said he wants to focus on economic, environmental and educational issues.

"Like most people, I am concerned about economic issues, especially growth in local communities as that serves as the basis for the national economy. A series of economic decisions by Republicans weaken local economies, cutting revenues, shrinking local demand, driving away businesses and destroying jobs. We must reverse that," Howe said.

He is seeking the Democratic nomination.

"The 2016 election made clear that a Republican administration and a Republican-led Congress will do grave harm to the nation as exemplified recently by the president's 'skinny budget' and the GOP's plan to provide huge tax cuts for the wealthy paid for with huge cuts in health care for everyone else, especially the poor," he said. "These policies degrade the nation I protected for 24 years in an Air Force uniform. I cannot stand by idly and allow this to happen. It is time to return to public service for our local communities, the 11th District, Pennsylvania and the United States. This is the best thing I can do for all of them at this time."

Howe said President Trump is not treating immigrants and refugees as human beings with inherent rights.

"That harms them, and it harms our nation -- a nation built by immigration," he said. "Finally, the defense and diplomatic strategies of the United States are in disarray under this president. A Republican Congressman like Lou Barletta -- fan of Mr. Trump -- is not going to tell him 'no' when he needs to hear that. He needs the oversight a veteran and a Democrat will provide."

Howe said he plans to visit voters in the district to hear their concerns.

As a communications and operations planner with the Air Force, Howe helped plan and launch special operations actions in the 2003 Iraq War. He has earned a number of medals for his military service, including a Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

"The Air Force drafted core values during my career of 'integrity first; service before self; and excellence in all we do.' Those values drive my actions to this day. I will bring them to my office along with a concern for and commitment to the constituents in the 11th District.

"I am driven by achievement and accomplishment, not personal awards or luxury," he said. "The voters will see me over and over during this campaign and have multiple opportunities to share their views, and that will continue during my time in office. I am not afraid to visit the district. I know who my bosses are."

He retired from the Air Force in 2005; completed associate's and bachelor's degrees and spent much time volunteering. He became a government facilitator for the U.S. Institute of Peace SENSE program.

Barletta has held the Congressional seat since 2011. He was last elected in 2016, and his term expires in January 2019.

Howe, who has yet to form a campaign committee, faces an uphill battle.

For one, he lacks Barletta's recognizability. The congressman's fight against illegal immigration as Hazleton mayor made him a household political name across the state.

Barletta is also politically tested and well-funded. After twice losing to him earlier, he won a tough 2010 battle against Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski. Barletta, 61, has easily won re-election three times, winning by margins of 17, 33 and 27 percentage points. His latest campaign finance report shows him with more than $340,000 in cash on hand.

Even though the district has about the same number of Democrats as Republicans, President Donald Trump won the district by 60 percent to 36.2 percent, according to a tabulation of presidential results by congressional district by Daily Kos, a liberal online publication.

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(c)2017 the Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, Pa.)

Visit the Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, Pa.) at standardspeaker.com

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