Usually when there’s an open-seat race for governor — in Pennsylvania or any other state — lots of politicians run for the office. But in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, there’s only one candidate on the ballot: Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general.
While Shapiro, 49, is a lock to win the May 17 primary, the general election in November is expected to be highly competitive. The national political environment is widely expected to favor Republicans, given historic trends in midterm elections, stubbornly high inflation, and continued pandemic fatigue. Gov. Tom Wolf’s approval rating has slipped to just 37%, with 51% disapproving of the term-limited Democrat’s job performance, according to a January Muhlenberg College poll.
Neither party has won three consecutive gubernatorial elections since 1950.
What is Josh Shapiro’s background?
Shapiro is serving his second term as Pennsylvania attorney general. First elected in 2016, he gained prominence when he released a grand jury report on the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal. He won a settlement in a major wage theft case and helped resolve a dispute between two Western Pennsylvania healthcare giants he said had left patients excluded from a major hospital network.
Shapiro’s profile grew in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when his office defended Pennsylvania’s secretary of state in court as allies of then-President Donald Trump challenged the results. Last year, he sued Pennsylvania Senate Republicans after they subpoenaed Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration for millions of voters’ personal records.
Republicans have highlighted Shapiro’s legal support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions, which they blame for job losses and call infringements on personal liberty.
Earlier in his career, Shapiro was chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and a state representative. He won his first legislative race in 2004.
What are Josh Shapiro’s top policy priorities?
Shapiro has cast his candidacy as a bulwark against potential Republican attempts to restrict abortion access and tighten voting laws. Republicans currently control both chambers of the legislature, and a Republican governor may well be able to pursue a conservative social agenda — policies that Wolf has vetoed during his eight-year tenure.
He says he would expand voting access by supporting same-day voter registrationand automatic registration when people obtain driver’s licenses, and adopting in-person early voting. Shapiro would likely need a Democratic-led legislature to make significant headway on those issues.
Shapiro released his first tax policy proposal of the campaign in March: a plan he says would cut costs for consumers amid high inflation. Shapiro says he wants to give $250 checks to anyone with a registered vehicle, up to four per household; expand a property tax rebate program for seniors and the disabled; and eliminate a so-called cell phone tax. Shapiro has said the plan could cost up to $2.7 billion, and that he would pay for it by using unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds and tapping the state’s revenue surplus.
Who is backing Josh Shapiro?
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party unanimously voted to endorse Shapiro earlier this year. He is running unopposed.
He’s also been endorsed by a number of labor unions, Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ groups, and other organizations that comprise the Democratic coalition.
What else should I know?
He got more votes than anyone else on the ballot in both 2016 and 2020 – including Trump and Joe Biden.