Congressmen enjoy a lot of perks including one visible tonight.

Besides being among the few in the same room when presidents of United States give state of the union addresses, congressmen can invite guests to be there.

Their guests are usually more interesting when they’re running in tough elections and they’re looking for good publicity.

For example, in 2016, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, expected and got only half-hearted Republican election opposition.

That year, Cartwright invited his son, Jack, to sit in the gallery and watch President Barack Obama’s last state of the union. (His re-election race turned out closer than expected.)

Tonight, Cartwright invited Colonel Nathan M. Swartz, “the 32nd commander of the Tobyhanna Army Depot, one of the region’s largest employers.”

Matt Cartwright, lover of the military and jobs.

They will watch President Donald Trump give his first state of the union

address. Trump’s address last year isn’t considered a state of the union.

Last year, Sen. Pat Toomey had a memorably tough re-election campaign. He invited Trooper Alex Douglass, the state policeman wounded when sniper Eric Frein killed a fellow trooper, Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson.

This year, Toomey invited Jeff Kendall.


Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly described Kendall as “a businessman, confidant and friend from Pittsburgh.” Kendall co-owns one of the largest tire recycling companies in the country.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10, Lycoming Twp., almost the president’s drug czar, followed Toomey’s example. Marino invited Trooper Seth Kelly, a Wayne County native, and his wife, Philomena. The trooper was shot on duty in November while he and another officer tried to arrest a man near Nazareth.

Marino, a former U.S. Attorney, certainly has a lot of respect for law enforcement, but he also faces a potentially tough primary election.

Two years ago, Sen. Bob Casey took his wife, Terese.

This year, with a point to make about Trump and congressional Republicans “slashing vital programs and services for working families,” Casey invited Anna Corbin.

She’s a mother of two children with a rare malady who rely on Medicaid coverage to pay the costs of “complex medical needs” that far exceed her family’s income.

Casey faces a re-election slugfest, probably against U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, Hazleton, who’s trying to make his own point tonight.

He invited John Dowd, president of Sundance Vacations in Wilkes-Barre. Dowd “just awarded bonuses to his employees due to (Trump’s) tax cuts,” Barletta spokesman David Jackson said in an email.