Denting Charlie Dent

It’s official: Democrats have landed their top recruit to run against Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), one of the six remaining House Republicans who hold Kerry/Obama seats.

Bethlehem mayor John Callahan announced he’s running for the Pennsylvania Congressional seat, after turning down Democrats’ recruitment efforts in the last two election cycles.

“Our economy is in peril because of years of policies supported by Charlie Dent that led to record deficits and skyrocketing unemployment. He went to Washington and left the Lehigh Valley behind, and I can no longer sit back and watch him vote time and time again against the best interests of the Lehigh Valley,” Callahan said in a statement.

“I can’t sit on the sidelines while he votes to bailout the folks on Wall Street who got our economy into this mess while turning his back on Main Street and the families here in the Lehigh Valley who are really struggling."

On one hand, Callahan is the strongest Democratic challenger Dent faced since he won his first election (with 59 percent of the vote) in 2004. He has a political base in Allentown and has the fundraising connections to raise enough money to give Dent a tough time.

On the other hand, the national environment should be much better for GOP candidates next year. And Dent is primed to get a boost with his predecessor, Pat Toomey, running for Senate and heading the top of the ticket.

Either way, a competitive race in the Lehigh Valley allows me to cue up the famous Billy Joel song.

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