Blake to direct Cartwright's district office with jobs focus

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Feb. 15—SCRANTON — State Sen. John Blake is leaving his elected position to direct U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright's district office with an emphasis on attracting federal money to preserve and create jobs.

Blake, 60, formally announced today he will resign as a senator effective March 8 to become Cartwright's new district director. Blake, D-22, Archbald, said he considers being able to hold the office for more than a decade an honor.

"It's been a very difficult and emotional decision for me," Blake said.

Blake and Cartwright appeared jointly at a news conference at the former Oppenheim Building in downtown Scranton.

The move coincides with Cartwright becoming chairman of a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee, which he says will mean an ability to bring more federal money to the 8th Congressional District.

Blake has decades of of state, local and private-sector experience in economic development, including a long stint as chief operating officer at the state Department of Community and Economic Development and a shorter period as the department's acting secretary.

Blake, who contemplated moving on for several months, will replace Bob Morgan, district director since Cartwright first joined Congress in January 2013. Morgan said he is seeking other opportunities, and there are no hard feelings about making way for Blake.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will schedule a special election to replace Blake. Democratic and Republican parties in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties will choose nominees for the special election. The winner will serve only until Blake's term expires on Nov. 30, 2022, unless reelected earlier that month.

Frank McHale, a Scranton Democrat, said he plans to seek the nomination for Blake's seat. Scott Twp. Mike Giannetta, a Republican, said he will seriously consider seeking his party's nomination. State Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-112, Blakely, Blake's one-time legislative director, and state Rep. Marty Flynn, D-113, Scranton, also are considered potential candidates.

Blake said he will play no role in choosing his replacement.

Cartwright represents the 8th Congressional District, which includes all of Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne counties, most of Luzerne County and part of Monroe County.

The 22nd Senate District includes all of Lackawanna; Avoca, Dupont and Duryea boroughs and Pittston Twp. in Luzerne; and Barrett, Coolbaugh and Price townships in Monroe County. The district is entirely within the 8th Congressional District.

Blake's salary this year is $90,335. His federal salary was not disclosed.

Contact the writer: bkrawczeniuk@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9147; @BorysBlogTT on Twitter.