Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bartos touts his business experience, derides other candidates for weak ties to PA at tele town hall

Jeff Bartos speaks during a debate with other Republican Party candidates seeking to win the party nomination in the 2022 election for the U.S. Senate in this photo made on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in New Castle, Pa.
Keith Srakocic
Jeff Bartos is running for the Republican nomination in the 2022 election for the U.S. Senate.

Jeff Bartos worked to distinguish himself in a crowded field of Republican U.S. Senate candidates at a tele-town hall on Thursday evening, by highlighting his experience as a small business owner and emphasizing his Pennsylvania roots – a dig at Republican candidates who many say have weaker ties to the state.

“I am running for United States Senate because Main Street is being crushed—crushed by inflation, mandates, and crime waves,” he said.

Voters on the conference call asked Bartos, who was the 2018 GOP Lt. Gov. candidate, about his stance on a host of issues, from abortion to the Second Amendment. Bartos readily answered them: he’s “pro-life” and he will supports gun rights. Before he officially entered the race, Bartos said he signed a pledge that, if elected, he would only serve two terms.

“My dad taught me that ‘shall not be infringed’ means very clearly ‘shall not be infringed,’” he said. “So rest assured, I will always protect our Second Amendment rights.”

But Bartos gave less direct responses to other issues voters asked about – such as the integrity of the 2020 election. Several people expressed concern about election security and questioned the state’s election procedures.

Many Republican candidates and elected officials at all levels of government are quick to question the integrity of the 2020 election, despite a complete lack of evidence. But Bartos did not share his views on the issue one way or the other. Instead, he repeated frustrations that Pennsylvanians – in some restaurants – must show their ID and proof of vaccination to dine in, even though voters are not asked to show their ID every time they go to the polls.

“Only in the mind of a left-wing, deranged ideologue does it make sense that we have to show an ID to eat, but we don’t have to show an ID to vote,” he said.

Any changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws would have to be done at the state level, which Bartos acknowledged.

Former President Trump, who has loudly championed false claims of voter fraud, was largely absent from the tele-townhall.

Bartos mentioned him in passing just a few times, saying once “we need more common sense business people in the Senate, in the House and in the White House. Because we saw what happens when you have a business person in the White House getting stuff done” without naming Trump.

Bartos didn’t mention any of his opponents by name either – though he was asked about them.

In those moments, Bartos pushed his Pennsylvania heritage, and talked about raising his family in the Commonwealth.

“I was living alongside all of you when the pandemic struck,” Bartos said. “I didn’t parachute into Pennsylvania to run for office. I’m a lifelong resident with a deep love for our shared Commonwealth.”

Republican candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz, Carla Sands and David McCormick have been derided by Bartos and others for being “carpetbaggers.” All three candidates have known addresses in other states, though they appear to have made efforts to establish residency here.