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Paul Kanjorski

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1985
Preceded by Frank G. Harrison

Born April 2, 1937 (1937-04-02) (age 72)
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nancy Kanjorski
Residence Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Temple University
Dickinson College
Occupation attorney
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1960-1961
Unit Reserves

Paul E. Kanjorski (born April 2, 1937) is an American Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, currently representing Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district (map) in the United States House of Representatives. His district includes the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton as well as most of the The Poconos. He has served in the House since 1985.


Early life and career

Kanjorski was born in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, near Wilkes-Barre, and is a lifelong resident of Nanticoke. He attended Wyoming Seminary, Temple University and the Dickinson School of Law and served in the United States Army Reserve. Before entering politics, he practiced law in Wilkes-Barre often helping coal miners and their widows obtain black lung benefits. Kanjorski also volunteered his time and talents to advocate on behalf of victims of Hurricane Agnes which devastated the Wyoming valley in 1972. Kanjorski served as a worker's compensation administrative law judge for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Solicitor for the City of Nanticoke and served as assistant solicitor to several communities.

Congressional career

In 1980, Dan Flood, who had represented the 11th District for most of the time since 1945, resigned. Kanjorski ran in the crowded special election as an independent, finishing behind State Representative Ray Musto. He ran against Musto in the Democratic primary later that year, but finished third. Musto lost to Republican James L. Nelligan in the general election. In 1984, after sitting out the 1982 campaign, Kanjorski defeated incumbent Frank G. Harrison, who had defeated Nelligan in 1982, in the primary. He won the general election by a solid 17-point margin, even as Ronald Reagan carried the district in his landslide reelection bid.

In 1986, Kanjorski faced a younger, well-financed Republican opponent in Marc Holtzman. The race was initially seen as one of the hottest in the country. However, Kanjorski won by 41 points, his largest margin of victory in a contested election. He was unopposed in 1988 and 1990 and did not face another credible opponent until 2002, when he faced Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Kanjorski defeated Barletta by 13 points. Like many Pennsylvania Democrats from outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Kanjorski opposes gun control and is moderately conservative on abortion. However, he is strongly pro-labor, and has spoken out against the Iraq War. He has served on the Financial Services Committee since he entered Congress in 1985 and is now the second-ranking Democrat on that committee. He usually plays behind-the-scenes roles in the advocacy or defeat of legislation and steers appropriations money toward improving the infrastructure and economic needs of his district. He is popularly known as "Kanjo."


Recent votes and position statements

On May 10, 2007, the usually moderate Kanjorski voted with fellow Democrats to begin the redeployment of all forces from Iraq, however the bill was defeated. As of the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Kanjorski's position on the war in Iraq appeared to be that he would vote for redeployment, but not as a condition of continued funding for the war until and unless the expected presidential veto of such a bill would be overridden.

After the August 1, 2007 collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kanjorski said he believed the $250,000,000 bill passed by Congress to rebuild the bridge was a ripoff because it exceeded the normal $100,000,000 limit for emergency relief projects. He added in saying that Minnesotans "discovered they were going to get all the money from the federal government and they were taking all they could get" and that they took the opportunity "to screw us." [1]

2008 election

After facing no major-party opposition in 2004 and a nominal Republican challenger in 2006, Kanjorski faced Lou Barletta again in 2008. Since the 2002 race, Barletta had become well-known for his opposition to illegal immigration.

Multiple polls had shown Kanjorski trailing by as many as five percentage points,[2] and the race was pegged as one of the nation's most competitive leading into the 2008 elections. Kanjorski was one of the few House Democrats in the Northeast in any danger of being unseated. However, Kanjorski won in a much more competitive race than his first matchup with Barletta, taking 52 percent of the vote to Barletta's 48 percent,[3] even as Barack Obama easily carried the district. Kanjorski lost three of the district's five counties, including Luzerne County, where both he and Barletta live. However, as in 2002, Kanjorski swamped Barletta in Lackawanna County, winning by 12,500 votes (20 percent); he lost the area he had represented prior to the 2000 redistricting by almost 4,000 votes.

2008 US Financial Crisis

In an interview on CSPAN on January 27, 2009, Kanjorski defended the original emergency actions by the United States government to halt the 2008 financial crisis in September 2008. Kanjorski stated that the move to raise the guarantee money funds up to $250,000 was an emergency measure to stave off a massive money market "electronic run" on the banks that removed $550 billion from the system in a matter of hours on the morning of September 18. He further asserted that, if not stopped, the run would not only have caused the American economy to crash immediately, within 24 hours it would have brought down the world economy as well.[4] [5] On February 10, 2009 the financial writer Daniel Gross subsequently confirmed some elements of the story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, but he prefaced his remarks by saying “I don‘t know if his numbers are 100 percent correct”.[6]Felix Salmon of Condé Nast Portfolio also questioned why Kanjorski's account had not been stated before.[7]

Committee assignments


  1. ^ Lynott, Jerry (2007-08-09). "Kanjo: Public angry with government". TimesLeader. Retrieved 2008-04-01.  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ start about 22:45 into the video.
  6. ^ "'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, February 10". February 10, 2009.  
  7. ^ Felix Salmon (February 10, 2009). "The Kanjorski Meme".  
  8. ^ a b Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski - Committee Assignments

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank G. Harrison
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

January 3, 1985 –
Succeeded by


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