BY L.A. TARONE
"My name has been thrown around for a few statewide offices," Mr. Barletta said. "There are some who are encouraging me to run for governor in 2010 and others would like to see me in Washington working on immigration.
"I'm giving it consideration, as to what my future may be."
Speculation about his seeking higher-office has mounted recently because of his extensive speaking engagement itinerary.
Over the last few months, Mr. Barletta has spoken to Republican committees in Lancaster, Gettysburg and Johnstown. He also is slated to appear in front of Republican committees in Lackawanna, Carbon, Columbia, Berks, Snyder, Monroe, Mifflin and Union counties in the coming weeks.
Those appearances have garnered statewide attention and a few have stirred up controversy.
His appearance in front of the Lancaster County Republican Committee at a $500 per plate invitation-only luncheon, drew the ire of Robert S. Nix, chairman of the Pennsylvania Hispanic Republicans, and Luis Mendoza, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly's Pennsylvania chapter. Both were angry because of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which they view as targeting Hispanics and driving them away from the GOP.
Mr. Mendoza called Mr. Barletta's appearance a "slap in the face" to Latinos in Lancaster County.
"Personally, being of Mexican descent, I find a lot of (immigration) rhetoric really offensive, and I feel increasingly backed into a corner in my own party," Mr. Nix told the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal.
Mr. Nix told the Philadelphia Bulletin, "Hazleton Mayor Republican Lou Barletta gained national attention with his misguided attempts to take clearly pre-empted federal immigration matters into his own hands in what amounts to a form of municipal vigilantism."
Mr. Barletta acknowledges his extensive appearances raise his statewide and national profile - as do appearances on Lou Dobbs' CNN show and Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor."
But that's not the main reason he's accepted so many invitations.
"I've been accepting speaking engagements because it raises money for Hazleton's legal defense fund," Mr. Barletta said. "I get to take Hazleton's case around the state."
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©The Times-Tribune 2007