Carbon County voters followed the electorate in three other counties in the 11th Congressional District balloting on Tuesday, voting soundly to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski in his bid for re-election to a 14th two-year term of office.
For Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, the third time proved to be the charm as he claimed the victory by an unofficial margin of 100,108 to 83,422, after losing to the congressman both in 2002 and 2008.
Like voters in Luzerne, Monroe and Columbia counties, Carbon voters gave the nod to Barletta in the hotly-contested race. Kanjorski, a Democrat, won only in Lackawanna County.
The unofficial totals in Carbon showed Barletta, the Republican challenger, winning by more than 4,000 votes. With all 51 of the county's precincts reporting, the results had Barletta with 11,644 votes, compared to 7,454 for the congressman.
Similarity, Barletta was victorious in Luzerne County, where he garnered 41,285 votes, almost 10,000 more than Kanjorski's 31,489. Likewise, Columbia County voters favored the mayor, 12,229 to 5,414, while in Monroe County, Barletta was a 19,511 to 17,286 winner.
Kanjorski's lone county win was in Lackawanna, where he defeated Barletta by a margin of 21,779 to 15,439.
At a victory party in Mea's Restaurant in Hazleton, Barletta told supporters, "A wise man once said, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. This was our campaign, and this is our victory."
He added, "I will be a congressman who will always listen to my constituents. I heard you throughout this campaign, and Washington will hear us in January."
The GOP win ends a 26-year rein for Kanjorski in Washington, D.C., where he rose to seniority and became chairman of the powerful House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises.
After calling Barletta around 10:30 last night, the congressman addressed his supporters at Bo Brothers bar and restaurant in Moosic, telling them, "We knew it would end. When it would end, we weren't certain." He described the Barletta victory as one of "incredible proportions" and promised to work with the mayor in his transition to office.
The last Republican to hold the congressional seat was Jim Nelligan, who defeated Democrat Ray Musto in 1980. Nelligan held the seat from 1981-83, then lost to Democrat Frank Harrison. The latter was later defeated by Kanjorski in 1984, who has held the seat since that time.
The other Republican to hold the seat was former Hazleton Mayor Edward J. Bonin, a Republican, who defeated Dan Flood in 1952, served two years, and then lost to Flood in 1954.
The position currently carries an annual salary of $174,000.