Charlie Gerow is a longtime political strategist who for years worked behind the scenes to elevate Republican candidates in Pennsylvania and champion conservative policy positions. He’s now running for Pennsylvania governor as a self-described “conservative happy warrior” who wants to bring positive change to a divided state.

This is Gerow’s first gubernatorial bid, though he unsuccessfully ran for state Senate and Congress multiple times in the 1980s and 1990s. Polls and fund-raising suggest Gerow lags far behind the leading candidates in the May 17 primary election.

» READ MORE: Get to know the 2022 candidates for Pa. Senate and governor

What is Charlie Gerow’s background?

Gerow, 66, was born in Brazil and adopted by American missionaries who brought him to the U.S. as a child. He grew up in Bucks County and has lived in Cumberland County for decades.

In 1976, he began his political career as an aide on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign and then worked for Reagan in a variety of capacities for more than two decades.

Following several unsuccessful bids for public office, Gerow in 2001 founded his Harrisburg-based public affairs firm, Quantum Communications. He has long been a staple on Pennsylvania airwaves, hosting regular talk radio shows and appearing as a commentator on television.

In 2016, he was the national co-chair of Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign.

What are Charlie Gerow’s top policy priorities?

He said in an interview with the Inquirer ahead of his campaign launch that he’s focused on the post-pandemic economic recovery and would push for a tax structure he says would make Pennsylvania more attractive to businesses.

When asked about his priorities during debates and interviews, Gerow often touts his conservative credentials, saying he’d eliminate the school property tax and oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates. He also says he’d remove some restrictions on natural-gas drilling companies by withdrawing from a regional initiative aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Gerow says he would sign so-called “heartbeat” legislation that would ban abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo, which usually occurs around six to eight weeks gestation.

Who is backing Charlie Gerow?

U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R., Pa.) endorsed Gerow in April, saying he’s a “solid conservative” who “knows how important agriculture is to Pennsylvania.”

Gerow was also endorsed by Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who was raised near Harrisburg. Gerow was the Pennsylvania chair of Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about voting in Pa.’s May 2022 primary election

The American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, is Gerow’s largest campaign donor. The political organization — of which Gerow is vice chair — kicked in $100,000. Gerow also loaned his campaign $85,000.

What else should I know?

Gerow was involved in a State Police investigation last summer following a fatal motorcycle crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A witness said they saw a vehicle, which police believe was driven by Gerow, driving from the scene of a late-night crash with a motorcycle wedged in the grill.

A lawyer for Gerow said that preliminary information showed that Gerow did not hit the motorcyclist, striking only the bike after its driver had already crashed.