Let me start by saying, I don’t think state Sen. John Yudichak will run for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta’s seat in Congress.
First, he pretty much said that.
“Certainly, it’s been my plan and intent to run for the state Senate in 2018,” Yudichak told me yesterday.
When Barletta announced he would run for the U.S. Senate next year, Yudichak started getting a lot of calls asking him to think about running for Barletta’s House seat. Because of a lot of Democrats want him to run, he’s giving it some consideration, but I don’t think he considering it that seriously.
Yesterday, he said he would decide by next week. That alone tells me he’s not that interested. It’s a pretty quick decision, though anyone getting in needs to get in soon just to have enough time for adequate fundraising.
Other factors say he won’t run, too.
First, the Democratic senator from Plymouth Twp. and his wife, Heather, have four young daughters.
If the senator ran, he would have to campaign harder than he has in a long time and spend a lot of time away from them.
If he won, he would have to live many weeks all week long in Washington, D.C., farther away from his family than he is now when he goes to Harrisburg. Harrisburg is less than two hours away compared to the four to five hours, depending on traffic, that traveling to Washington would require.
“The family will be prominent in the discussion,” Yudichak told me.
If he lost, he would be out of a job with a big family to feed.
Second, he’s in a safe Senate seat, almost unbeatable, although some Republican will probably try next year. If he runs for Congress, he’ll run in an 11th Congressional District trending Republican against a tough Republican opponent (see yesterday’s blog post), despite its pretty even Democratic-Republican voter registration.
Third, he has built up almost eight years of seniority in the Senate after 12 years in the state House. That’s 20 years of ground experience in the ways of Harrisburg. Hard to give that up.
In a decimated Democratic Senate caucus – only 16 members compared to Republicans’ 34 – he has a fair amount of influence, even if he and Gov. Tom Wolf, also, a Democrat, don’t get along well.
He’s gotten a lot done as a senator if you believe his biography, and he talked extensively about it with me.
Fourth, if he goes to Washington, Yudichak starts out a freshman with virtually no influence in a Congress controlled by Republicans and with a Republican president. That environment is unlikely to change after the federal elections next year, despite what Democrats hope.
Even if Democrats win back the House, their circumstances improve little.
Where he can do the most good will figure prominently in his decision, too, Yudichak said.
My bet is he thinks that’s in Harrisburg. He’s already a rumored possible lieutenant governor candidate. For years, I’ve heard rumors he has his eyes on the governor’s office. More reasons to stay put.
Of course, I can think of a couple of reasons he runs for Congress.
First, it’s Congress. John Yudichak is a pretty confident guy. He might actually think he can accomplish more in Washington.
Second, it’s doubtful any Democrat could beat him for the party’s nomination or would seriously try. If that Democrat existed, he or she might have taken on Barletta already. That didn’t happen.
Fourth, he knows how to run a campaign and to generate the heat necessary to get outside help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Finally, there’s history. U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski used to have Barletta’s seat.
Kanjorski and the Yudichak family were once pretty close. The congressman hired Yudichak’s father, Joe, to run a regional heavy equipment center that rented federal surplus equipment to local municipalities at cheaper rates than private companies.
They had a major falling out involving a scandalous Kanjorski family-run company called Cornerstone Technologies. We won’t go into that whole history here, but it created lots of bad blood. The Yudichaks even tried to help elect Barletta to Congress in 2002, though he lost and didn’t beat Kanjorski until eight years later. If you read the biography, you know Yudichak and Barletta have worked on policy matters together.
You can bet the senator would relish taking Kanjorski’s seat, even if he would never say that publicly.
I still say he won’t run for Congress, but if he does, it will turn into a heck of a race.
— BORYS KRAWCZENIUK