A crowded field got even more crowded Monday as former Deputy State Attorney General Joe Peters jumped into the race for the congressional seat that Rep. Lou Barletta is giving up.
In an interview, Peters, a Republican, said he favors conservative values such as keeping taxes low and gun rights, but will make controlling the opioid crisis, aiding returning war veterans and homeland security top priorities if elected to the 11th Congressional District seat.
His “listening tour” of the district proved to him that his background as a drug prosecutor dovetails with the concerns of voters about the opioid crisis. He said his background as a homeland security consultant makes him best qualified to find ways to protect the district from terrorist attacks like the ones in Las Vegas and New York City last year.
“What happened in Las Vegas could happen in any number of stadiums in the nine counties of this district,” he said.
His announcement said he is “running because Congress doesn’t need another businessman or another legislator ... it needs someone who has been immersed in these problems their whole career.”
Peters, 60, of Lake Winola in Overfield Township, is a former Scranton police officer and served as an assistant to the federal drug czar under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He ran unsuccessfully for state auditor general in 2004 and attorney general in 2016.
Peters joins a race that already includes Republicans Dan Meuser of Kingston Twp., former Gov. Tom Corbett’s revenue secretary; Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-199, Cumberland; remodeling company operations chief Andrew Lewis of Dauphin County; and Berwick Councilman Andrew Schecktor.
On the Democratic side, three candidates have announced. They are Denny Wolff of Columbia County, former Gov. Ed Rendell’s agriculture secretary; Air Force veteran Robert Alan Howe of Cumberland County; and former Hazleton Mayor Mike Marsicano of Hazle Twp.
Barletta, also a former Hazleton mayor, decided last year to give up his House seat to run for the U.S. Senate this year.
The 11th District includes all of Luzerne County outside the Wilkes-Barre Area, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area school districts; all of Wyoming, Columbia and Montour counties; and parts of Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Northumberland and Perry counties.
Congressmen earn $174,000 annually.