Analysis: Pence visit signals GOP sees path to victory over Cartwright

Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Luzerne County next week sends a strong signal that Republicans think they can knock off Democratic U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright in the Nov. 6 election.

Facing the potential loss of at least four Republican-held seats elsewhere in Pennsylvania, party types have viewed beating Cartwright as their best chance to flip a Democratic-held seat in the state since early last year.

They originally targeted Cartwright because President Donald Trump won the 17th Congressional District by 10 percentage points in 2016.

Even after a state Supreme Court-ordered rewrite of congressional district boundaries in February boosted Democratic chances in the other districts, Cartwright found himself in a newly drawn 8th Congressional District that also went for Trump by 10 percentage points.

With John Chrin mounting a credible challenge, Republicans will send in one of their big guns to try to push him into the win column for them.

Pence endorsed and headlined a Washington, D.C., fundraiser Monday for Chrin, Jay Webber, a candidate for a New Jersey congressional seat, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which helps party congressional candidates.

The vice president will stump for Chrin next Wednesday afternoon at the Wyoming Valley Airport in Forty Fort, three sources said Tuesday.

“I think he’s coming to help a candidate who has a very good chance of winning,” said Lance Stange Jr., the Lackawanna County Republican chairman. “I think Chrin has worked very hard to be successful in this race. He’s everywhere. He’s campaigning constantly.”


Thomas J. Baldino, Ph.D., a Wilkes University political science professor, said Pence will try to woo those Trump Democrats to back Chrin.

“There’s always risk when candidates invite celebrities,” Baldino said. “Those Trump voters who still like Trump will probably support Chrin, but any Trump voter who has become disenamored with Trump may then decide that I don’t think I’m going to support Chrin.”

Chrin definitely could believe a Pence visit “could seal the deal” and that he’s that close to winning, Baldino said.

“That’s the positive spin. The negative spin is Chrin’s desperate, and he needs to bring in the heavy artillery,” Baldino said.

Perhaps, but usually in congressional campaigns, the heavy artillery rolls in where victory is in its sights.


The Citizens Voice
By Borys Krawczeniuk
Oct 18, 2018