“Thunder” doesn’t always bring rain, but putting Lou Barletta in the governor’s mansion would bring a flood of bad legislation aimed at drowning the voting rights of non-Republican Pennsylvanians.  

The former Hazleton mayor and Congressman announced this week that he will run for governor next year, hoping to team with GQP legislators to further Trump’s Big Lie about widespread voter fraud and bolster the power of “Pennsyltucky” voters to keep the state as backwards as possible for as long as possible. 

Barletta was among the first Congressmen to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, a shameless genuflection for which Trump rewarded Lou with the nickname “Thunder.” Former Congressman Tom Marino was dubbed “Lightning,” and the pair became useful tools in hoovering up the Luzerne County and rural votes that narrowly won the state for Trump.   

That history alone should be disqualifying for most voters, but Lou’s stated goals make it clear he is still in the bag for the dear leader of Cult 45. Barletta told The Associated Press he would consider signing legislation that would end universal mail-in voting and limit the vital option to voters with government-approved excuses. 

“I would consider signing it because I believe it’s ripe for fraud,” Barletta said. “I think it encourages the chances.”

Ah yes, voter fraud, the widespread, clear and present danger to democracy scores of Republican searchers have been unable to document for decades. Trump has blazed a bold new trail — damn the lack of evidence and keep lying while you legislate roadblocks for legal, registered and likely hostile voters.

Trump hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the race, but Lou seems eager to lie through his gleaming teeth if that’s what it takes to get the blessing of the former guy.  

“I would love his endorsement and I’m going to try to earn it,” Barletta said. Lou furthered that campaign by telling the AP he’s still not convinced the election wasn’t stolen from Trump.

“No one knows that,” he said. “Who can say for certain how much the election was changed to the difference that would have made? Nobody.”

In fact, everyone who values facts and fair and free elections knows that. If Barletta truly doesn’t, voters who do will rally educate him next year. Barletta will run with a lumpy, orange fraud on his back. Good luck crossing the finish line first. 

Another alarming yet unsurprising element of Barletta’s fledgling campaign is his professed intent to inject the governor’s office into the issue of illegal immigration. Remember how well that worked out for the taxpayers of Hazleton? They are still paying the bill for Lou’s ridiculous, unconstitutional trespassing in a federal jurisdiction that was messy enough without the meddling of a grandstanding smalltown mayor desperate for a boost to the next level.

So let “Thunder” rumble. Like every GQP candidate for the next umpteen years, he will carry the “Scarlet T,” a stain he earned and still wears with self-owning pride.