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Josh Shapiro spends big to tell his story now, with no Democratic primary rival for governor

Josh Shapiro, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania governor, is plowing nearly $1 million into a pair of TV ads.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor.Read moreMatt Rourke / AP

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s de facto Democratic nominee for governor, could wait on the sidelines for now with his $16 million war chest.

There are nine Republicans vying for the nomination in the May 17 primary. Many are underfunded. And they’re taking plenty of shots at each other.

But Shapiro, now in his second term as state attorney general, won’t wait another three weeks. Instead, he’s plowing almost $1 million into a pair of television ads starting Tuesday.

The first is a 60-second ad about Shapiro’s record in office and family life, building off his name recognition from winning statewide races in 2016 and 2020. He’s also got a 30-second ad about his office’s wrangling with a “predatory loan company” that resulted in $1.8 million in canceled student loans.

The two ads represent $950,000 in airtime, part of $2.7 million Shapiro has booked so far. That ranks him third in spending for all candidates for governor, according to AdImpact, which tracks political advertising.

A group of political action committees run by the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, supporting Republican Bill McSwain of West Chester, has booked almost $14 million in broadcast and cable television, with about $6 million of that for the primary. Former Delaware County Council member Dave White has booked almost $5.2 million for the Republican primary.

Shapiro, who lives in Abington, also has backing from Pennsylvania Works LLC, a political nonprofit with ties to the Democratic Governors Association that has booked $1.1 million in ad time.

Shapiro also appears in a new $1.2 million ad buy from his selected running mate, State Rep. Austin Davis of Allegheny County, who is running against State Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia and Ray Sosa of Montgomery County.

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