Presidential politics soak up much of the attention every four years. But Pennsylvania voters on Tuesday will also elect a trio of candidates to hold the statewide “row offices” of attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer.
Two incumbents in those offices, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Treasurer Joe Torsella, survived a very bad election for Democrats four years ago to secure first terms, along with Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who is finishing his second term while running for Congress.
And while these offices aren’t usually seen as impacting education policy in the state, a conservative political action committee that typically focuses on school-choice issues like vouchers and charter schools has invested heavily in Republican candidates.
Here’s what you need to know about the races for these row offices.
Shapiro, a former Montgomery County commissioner and member of the state House from Abington, is being challenged by Republican Heather Heidelbaugh, a Pittsburgh trial attorney who lives in Mount Lebanon.
Shapiro, who is widely considered a likely candidate for governor in 2022, has maintained a significant advantage in campaign cash, raising almost $5 million this year while Heidelbaugh raised about $3.4 million.
Heidelbaugh has received significant support from allies of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.). She also got backing from the conservative PAC Commonwealth Leaders Fund. That PAC gave Heidelbaugh almost $1.2 million in direct donations and other in-kind contributions for things like video production, mailers, and digital advertising — more than a third of what the campaign raised.
The four-candidate field also includes Libertarian Daniel Wassmer of Pike County and Green Party candidate Richard Weiss of Allegheny County.
The attorney general serves as the state’s top prosecutor, overseeing hundreds of lawyers dealing with criminal cases along with civil matters, like consumer complaints. The office also represents the state government in court if a law is challenged as unconstitutional. The attorney general makes an annual salary of $167,838.
Democrat Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor, and Republican Tim DeFoor, the Dauphin County controller, are seeking to replace DePasquale.
DeFoor ran unopposed in his primary and raised just $23,122 before the middle of September, when Commonwealth Leaders Fund gave his campaign nearly $1.4 million, including a $415,000 contribution and another $976,400 in-kind contribution that paid for digital media and mailings. The makes the PAC responsible for 95% of DeFoor’s funding.
Libertarian Jennifer Moore of Montgomery County and Green Party candidate Olivia Faison of Philadelphia round out the four-candidate field.
The auditor general is the chief fiscal watchdog for the state, conducting audits to examine how tax dollars are spent. The auditor general makes an annual salary of $167,838.
Torsella, who served as the U.S. representative to the United Nations for budget and management reform during the Obama administration, lives in Flourtown. He is being challenged by Republican Stacy Garrity, a retired U.S. Army Reserves colonel from Bradford County, whose 30 years of service included three tours in Iraq.
Torsella has campaigned as a reformer, pushing policies he implemented to save tax dollars while noting in campaign commercials that three of the last five state treasurers faced federal indictment for corruption charges. He is also considered a likely candidate for higher office in two years, either for governor or for the U.S. Senate seat held by Toomey, who is retiring.
Garrity, who has campaigned as a cultural conservative, said this month that Torsella should commit to serving a full, four-year if he wins, or drop out of the race. He did neither.
Libertarian Joe Soloski of Centre County and Green Party candidate Timothy Runkle of Lancaster County are also seeking the post.