Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and his Republican challenger, Congressman Lou Barletta, each touted their support of blue-collar workers in Pittsburgh Tuesday.
Casey toured a Neville Island manufacturing plant, where he talked up the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a job-training bill that he cosponsored and that President Trump signed last month.
Casey toured the shop floor at Calgon Carbon, which makes carbon filter systems for treating water. He then touted the $1. 2 billion measure, which reauthorizes and updates a federal workforce training program, to workers and executives.
“Career and technical education helps to bridge the gap between the education folks get and the workforce that we have in Pennsylvania and across the country,” he said.
“There just aren’t places like this in every community like there used to be,” Casey told the workers. “You’re making something, you’re manufacturing. Any society, any economy, unless you are making things, you really can’t grow.”
Casey’s visit was not a campaign event, and he made little mention of politics during his remarks. But he noted that the bill had been a bipartisan effort, and his campaign has touted it as proof of his effectiveness in the Senate.
Hours after Casey spoke, Barletta stopped in Pittsburgh’s South Side, where he announced an endorsement from a statewide association of union-staffed electrical contractors. That followed an endorsement by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small-business association that typically backs Republicans.
Barletta said the support reflected his stature as “a blue-collar Congressman … who wants to carry those blue-collar values to the Senate that will keep our folks here working, teaching them the skills they need for the jobs that exist.”
This was the second time in the past week Barletta and Casey appeared in the Pittsburgh area on the same day. By general consensus, Barletta is little known in western Pennsylvania, where he is likely to need votes if he’s going to repeat Donald Trump’s surprising 2016 win in the state.
Both men, who are lifelong Catholics, also addressed a statewide grand jury report investigating sexual abuse by priests, speaking about it hours before its release.
Casey says everyone named – including church officials who covered up for abusers – should be held accountable to whatever extent possible. He said that growing up in Scranton, he had no inkling of abuse taking place. But, he said, "I wonder about some of the students at that time who were altar boys, or were in some way connected to the church, if they were in fact victims and we just didn’t know about it. This cries out for not just accountability but real swift and severe justice.”
Barletta struck a softer tone, decrying the abuse but praising church officials for not contesting the disclosure of most of the names of clergy accused of abuse.
Barletta said it was “unfortunate what has happened, and the pain that it may have caused anyone. I’m sure those involved will have to deal with that, and I’m glad the Catholic Church has come out and become transparent so that everyone can see.”