Mike Marsicano looks to face Cartwright

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 3/4/20

REGION — Mike Marsicano of Luzerne County has joined five other Republicans vying for a chance to face Rep. Matt Cartwright in the 2020 elections.

The former mayor of Hazleton has centered …

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Mike Marsicano looks to face Cartwright

Posted

REGION — Mike Marsicano of Luzerne County has joined five other Republicans vying for a chance to face Rep. Matt Cartwright in the 2020 elections.

The former mayor of Hazleton has centered his campaign around support for President Donald Trump and staunch opposition to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and what he calls her “shills in Congress.” He includes Cartwright in that group—referring to him as “her number one hack in Washington.”

Despite positioning himself firmly against “radical Democrats,” Marsicano, who was a Democrat when he served as Hazleton mayor and when he unsuccessfully ran against Republican Lou Barletta for Congress in 2016, has a fair amount of middle ground with Cartwright, who has introduced more Republican-backed legislation than any other Democrat in the House.

On healthcare, Cartwright and Marsicano both prioritize lowering medical costs for citizens. Marsicano said he would support legislation called the “Lower Healthcare Costs Act” which has been introduced into the Senate. The bill would reduce the price of prescription drugs, end surprise medical billing and increase transparency in the industry.

Over the past several weeks, Cartwright has been campaigning for related legislation called the “Lower Drug Costs Now Act,” which has passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. The primary feature of this bill is allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on the prices of about 250 name-brand drugs, something that Medicare cannot legally do now. Both bills are described as “bipartisan” efforts to lower drug costs.

Both Marsicano and Cartwright are also proponents of strengthening infrastructure in counties like Wayne, especially to support the rural farming community; both have said that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement—which Cartwright voted yes on and Marsicano praised—will benefit farmers; and both consider access to rural broadband a central infrastructural concern.

“Broadband access, like any issue involving large amounts of technology, is highly complex,” Marsicano said in an email. “But the first steps that we need to take have nothing to do with broadband itself: They have to do with cutting back on the regulations to encourage industry to return to Wayne County. A return of industry to Wayne County will bring more money and resources to the area, and more demand for broadband access.”

Cartwright compares the direness of rural broadband now to the process of rural electrification that took place about 100 years ago.

On his website, Marsicano identifies “farmers struggling to get their products to market” as a primary concern in the Northeast. This seems to be another point of agreement between the two men, as Cartwright helped allocate about $35,000 for a milk processing plant feasibility study in Wayne County.

“That’s something reasonable and sensible, and something that could be a big help to our local dairy farmers,” Cartwright said, adding that he hopes to be a future help to the Wayne County Commissioners in getting the plant up and running.

Another benefit to rural residents, Marsicano said, is the ability to allow fracking on their land.
“People should be able to do what they want with their land, which is why I support the rights of people to frack. Fracking provides jobs and stimulates our rural economies, and continues to make America an energy superpower,” he said on his website.

As with other issues, Cartwright takes a centrist approach to fracking.

“There are a lot of voices out there that say we should ban fracking and we should keep it in the ground,” he said. “I am not among them. It’s not realistic to say that renewable energy can power this country, yet.”

He said the sooner renewable energy can take over completely, the better, but until then he calls natural gas a “terrific” way to bridge the gap.
Cartwright, does critique the lack of regulation for fracking, noting that when methane gas escapes into the atmosphere during fracking, it can be even more detrimental than carbon. This is an area where he may diverge from Marsicano, who lists “fighting regulation” as one of his key campaign issues.

“The energy sector in our country is stifled by over-regulation. If our representatives took steps to cut back on regulation in the energy sector, Northeast Pennsylvania would have an energy boom,” Marsicano said. “Our truckers, especially independent operators, are being stifled by greedy government officials who impose excessive regulation on the industry. Truckers I talk to all across the district say that, with all of the licensing requirements and burdensome regulations, people are leaving the trucking industry because they struggle to put food on the table for their families.”

Marsicano aligns with mainstream Republicanism on a number of other issues. On the Second Amendment, he said he will vote no on any gun control legislation unless it is introduced by someone with a proficient knowledge of firearms. On immigration, he said that, as a congressman, he would reintroduce the “Border Security for America Act” into the House and has publicly praised the Trump administration’s efforts to “secure the southern border.”

A lifelong resident of Northeast PA, Marsicano has also promised to uphold “Northeast PA values.”

“Being straight, to the point and not putting up with any B.S.; working hard to strive for excellence; and putting your family and community ahead of yourself are just a few,” he said when asked what Northeast PA values were. “It is because of values like these that I am imposing a three-term limit on my time as congressman and refusing a congressional pension.”

The primary elections will take place on Tuesday, April 28 of this year.

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