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Rob Bresnahan

Republican venture capitalist Rob Bresnahan announced on Nov. 9 that he will mount a 2024 challenge to Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright and promised to end inflation if elected. He told a political website that day that his plans include infrastructure investments quite reminiscent of President Joe Biden’s 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. 

According to the Cook Political Report, Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District leans about four points more Republican than the national average district and the race is a tossup. Cartwright is seeking a seventh term in the northeastern Pennsylvania district that includes Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

Bresnahan, the founder and president of RPB Ventures LLC, registered his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 2, but waited five weeks to formally announce. In his kickoff video, he said he is running for Congress because “Washington, D.C., is so broken.” Over images of four Democratic congresswomen of color and of Cartwright walking next to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Bresnahan claimed, “We have members of Congress running down our country, giving the green light to our enemies to create chaos. Our borders are wide open, fentanyl is literally killing our families, we’re spending too much on things we don’t need, and sending billions overseas while people in northeastern Pennsylvania struggle to put food on their tables.”

In text on the screen, he pledges to “secure our border, protect our families, end inflation.”

Aside from that video, Bresnahan’s campaign website does not yet include any information about his political views, such as his positions on reproductive rights, tax policy, affordable health care, or gun safety. A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions for this story.

In a Nov. 9 interview with RealClearPennsylvania, Bresnahan said his focus would be on improving transportation, water systems, broadband, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure: “If we want to foster economic growth in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we need to have the fundamental infrastructure systems in place to support that growth.”

But that is exactly what Biden and congressional Democrats have prioritized. 

In 2021, Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which boosted federal infrastructure funding by $550 billion. The package included funding for roads, bridges, safety, public transit, EV infrastructure, clean drinking water, electric grid modernization, and high-speed internet. It passed the Senate with 19 Republican votes, but was approved by the House with just 13 GOP votes in favor.

Since its enactment, the infrastructure law has provided significant funding to allow Pennsylvania to rebuild dangerous bridges to prevent future collapses like the one that collapsed in Allegheny County in early 2022. It has also allowed the commonwealth to distribute millions of dollars in grants to create more affordable clean energy and make the electrical grid more resilient. 

Cartwright voted for the law, noting in a floor speech that its passenger rail investments would create high-wage American union jobs and help his district. “In northeastern Pennsylvania, AMTRAK has assessed that adding a line to reach northeastern Pennsylvania will add $87 million a year in additional economic activity in Pennsylvania.” 

All but one member of Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional delegation voted against the legislation. Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker tweeted after it passed the House, “Today was the most expensive day in House history.”

While Republicans have tried to blame Biden’s economic policies for the inflation that began during the COVID-19 pandemic under President Donald Trump, economic experts say rising prices had more to do with global supply chains, the tight labor market, corporate greed, and other factors. 

After the Republican-led House voted in October to remove California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the speakership, Bresnahan sought to distance himself from the chaos of the current GOP-led House of Representatives. 

“What we saw unfold yesterday in the House of Representatives made it clear that it is time for a change,” he said in a statement, according to WFMZ-TV. “We have families who are forced to decide between groceries and child care, seniors struggling to pay medical bills let alone utilities, housing that is totally unaffordable, and crumbling infrastructure. Northeastern Pennsylvania can’t afford non-stop fighting in Washington.”

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