Guy Ciarrocchi, a onetime top official in the administration of former Gov. Tom Corbett who has served as CEO of the main trade group for Chester County businesses, is running for governor of Pennsylvania.
Ciarrocchi, a Republican who lives in Paoli, said he would draw on his experience inside and outside government to help improve a pandemic-battered economy. “We gotta fix this economy,” he said in an interview Friday. “The economy is issue No. 1, 2, and 3.”
“First and foremost, we need to make sure we get the problem of workforce shortage solved,” Ciarrocchi said, adding it’s “time for able-bodied Pennsylvanians to go back to work.”
A charter school advocate, Ciarrocchi said education reform would be another priority.
He joins a crowded field of Republicans running to succeed Gov. Tom Wolf, a second-term Democrat who cannot seek reelection next year. Declared and prospective GOP candidates include former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, and State Sens. Doug Mastriano, Scott Martin, and Dan Laughlin.
Democrats are largely rallying behind state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who hasn’t announced his candidacy.
Ciarrocchi, 56, served as chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley during the Corbett administration, and before that held the same role for U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.). Cawley — who served as a Temple University vice president until last month and who some Pennsylvania Republicans had hoped would run for governor himself — is chairing Ciarrocchi’s campaign.
Ciarrocchi led President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign in Pennsylvania and was appointed regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Most recently, Ciarrocchi has been CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. He took leave from the chamber on Friday. During the pandemic, he said, he’s seen “strangers cry in front of strangers” because of business shutdowns.
Ciarrocchi said he would overhaul the Department of Labor to “remove barriers to people getting into the workforce.”
The state unemployment rate was 6.4% in August, continuing a slow but steady decline. The national unemployment rate was 5.2%.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Jim Cawley is still employed at Temple University.