Bobby Lawrence, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate, has moved into a field of only two Republicans who could possibly win the election.
“This has been a fantastic week,” Lawrence told Big League Politics, where he announced his candidacy on May 23.
Lawrence is beaming at news that candidate Jeff Bartos dropped out of the race to run instead for lieutenant governor. Now, Lawrence is taking on moderate congressman Lou Barletta in the May 15 primary. The winner will go on to challenge Democrat Bob Casey in November. Casey is weak. He is holding the re-election support of only 27 percent of Pennsylvanians, spelling doom for his do-nothing Senate career.
Lawrence, the commercial glass company owner and “America First” conservative is barnstorming the state with Pastor Mark Burns, the black reverend who became an integral part of the Trump campaign and who is now moving closer to challenging Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Among the pro-Trump “America First” candidates banding together around the country, Lawrence is becoming their informal Dean.
Lawrence’s gung-ho speeches on trade, clean coal and the Second Amendment are making him an underground rock star. Even Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is putting the brakes on his support for Barletta until he hears more from Lawrence. Steve Bannon, meanwhile, is not focusing on the Pennsylvania race, even though there’s a firecracker candidate in the game who supports his agenda. Lawrence’s run is re-galvanizing Trump forces on the ground in Pennsylvania, which flipped industrial Democrats in record numbers in 2016.
Heading into an all-important Meet The Candidates Night in Blair County on December 9, Lawrence touts some big credentials: the endorsement of Citizens For Trump, and a new finance chairman named Thomas McGill, who raised over $50 million for Michele Bachmann and Rudy Giuliani. He calls McGill’s involvement “so huge.”
“Right now the party, I’m keeping them at arm’s length and only dealing directly with the county committees,” Lawrence told Big League Politics. “The state committee is a mess. I like [chairman] Val DiGiorgio, he’s a Hell of a nice guy, he’s been very collegial.. I’m just listening to what the counties are telling me.”
Lawrence is taking dead aim at Congressman Lou Barletta.
“There’s been no poll done. On social media, Lou Barletta is at 15 and I’m at 12,600 with momentum, and everybody else is below that,” Lawrence says. He sounds like Trump when he begins rattling off the names of his lesser competitors, hitting them one by one on their inability to compete.
“Guy by the name of Paul Attis, who is a NeverTrumper and he has like no presence at all on social media. We’ve got Cynthia Aires, I think she’s got only 500 or 600 Facebook likes, she’s only been to about 2 of the counties…. Jim Christiana, he was on the Samantha Bee show, this was back when Trump was the candidate. And Samantha Bee said it looks like we’re going to be stuck with a shit sandwich. He looked right at her and said ‘That seems to sum up my feelings on that matter.’ So I called him out, because he tried to run as a pro-Trump person, now he claims to be bipartisan. He calls me a “crazy Trump parrot.” Some guy named Vodka, but he used to be a Democrat, and the most he’s ever gotten was about 4 percent in a local county race. Then there’s Paul Beelong, he has no website except stating his candidacy. He has filed nothing.”
“The two heavy hitters are Lou Barletta and myself.”
Rumors swirl in northwest Pennsylvania and among opposition-researchers that a Lou Barletta scandal — in the possession of Democrats — could sink the congressman’s bid. So far, the scandal, whatever it is, has not come out.
On paper, Barletta has been an anti-illegal immigrant mayor and a supporter of President Trump’s travel ban, credited by Erick Erickson’s The Resurgent as a strong force in Trump’s Pennsylvania win due to the rural geography of his Eleventh district (yet another analysis that gives credit to congressmen and not to the loosely-organized ragtag band of groups like Trumpocrats that canvassed the Granite State).
“The Pennsylvania Republican Party is divided over Trump. Some folks that are supporting Lou, they don’t trust him as a true Trumper,” Lawrence said. “Instead of keeping his mouth shut he felt like he had to say something, he felt like he had to make a statement on Charlottesville. His people were letting it known that they didn’t think President Trump’s statement was strong enough.”
Lawrence also accuses Barletta of leading a legislative plot to allow the military to destroy records pertaining to its equipment purchases and relationships with vendors.
“I’ve got 63 pieces of legislation to point to. I can’t wait to debate this guy,” Lawrence said.