By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta has a simple message for Pennsylvania Democrats.

“If you’re a Democrat in Pennsylvania who voted for Donald Trump, how can you vote for Bob Casey?” says Barletta.

Barletta, who chaired Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania in 2016, is now the endorsed Republican candidate to take on incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in this year’s election.

“I support the president’s agenda. Bob Casey opposes everything the president is doing,” Barletta told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

The 62-year-old congressman from Hazleton got national attention as mayor of that city when he opposed illegal immigration and introduced local ordinances to prevent businesses from hiring illegal workers.

The grandson of legal immigrants, Barletta puts it this way: “We are pulling the rug out of legal immigrants who waited and came the proper way by allowing someone to come in and compete for their job.”

It was this issue that attracted Barletta to Donald Trump in 2016.

“When he came out and talked about securing the borders and the problem of illegal immigration and he was attacked the way I was because when you try to do something to stop illegal immigration, you’re going to immediately be called a racist or a bigot. No politician wants that,” Barletta said.

After Barletta helped Trump win Pennsylvania, the president encouraged him to take on Casey in this year’s Senate race.

Barletta accuses Casey of not representing Pennsylvania any longer.

“Honestly, I can’t really think of a lot of things that Bob Casey has led on,” he said. “He hasn’t been a very powerful senator for being there 12 years, and now taking an opposite position of the president, I don’t believe helps Pennsylvania workers.”

Casey’s opposition to Trump is very unlike Barletta, who’s close to Donald Trump.

“Having a good relationship with the president is not bad for the people in Pennsylvania,” adds Barletta.

This Senate race is shaping up as a real referendum on President Trump.

If you like the president and his program, you vote for Barletta.

If you are unhappy with him and the Trump agenda, you vote for Casey.

Of course, Barletta still needs to win the Republican nomination.

And local PA Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver County is also running for the GOP nod, along with former energy executive Paul Addis of Delaware County.

The primary is in a little over 11 weeks.

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