First Democrat jumps into Pennsylvania race for governor

Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro kicked off his long-expected campaign for governor on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

“Pennsylvania, I have been in the game. I’ve taken on the powerful and I’ve held them accountable and I’ve gotten real things done for the people,” Shapiro said at his announcement event in Pittsburgh.  “Now I’m ready to take on the next big fight as your governor, but I know I can’t do it alone.”

Shapiro, 48, is the first Democratic candidate to jump into the governor’s race and has effectively cleared the field of other potential rivals. Democratic incumbent Governor Tom Wolf is not running for reelection due to term limits.

Shapiro developed a national profile after his office produced a grand jury report in 2018 about the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic churches. He also strongly pushed back against former President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud in Pennsylvania. 

Election 2022-Governor-Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general Josh Shapiro speaks to a crowd during his campaign launch address for Pennsylvania governor, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Pittsburgh. Keith Srakocic / AP

“We won in court to protect the will of the people every single time,” Shapiro said Wednesday. “And while the threat is still very real, we defended our democracy and we will continue to defend the rights of Pennsylvanians to vote.”

In his kickoff speech, Shapiro said his potential Republican opponents are “not focused” on Pennsylvania’s challenges and are instead “peddling the big lie.” Shapiro filed a lawsuit last month to block a subpoena from Senate Republicans demanding millions of voter records as they investigate the 2020 election

If elected, Shapiro will likely have to work with a Republican-led legislature. He told supporters that he would try to break partisan divides in Harrisburg but also pledged to use the veto when necessary. 

“Make no mistake, if they come for your voting rights, if they come for your reproductive rights, if they come after your right to organize, I won’t hesitate to use that veto pen to protect you,” Shapiro said. 

Pennsylvania’s governor’s race is likely to be one of the most competitive and expensive races for a governor’s mansion in 2022. Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up. 

Several Republicans have already launched their campaigns, including former Representative Lou Barletta, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, political strategist Charlie Gerow and former CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry Guy Ciarrocchi. 

“Throughout the pandemic, Josh Shapiro has stood by Tom Wolf and his failed COVID policies that endangered Pennsylvania seniors, crushed the economy, and left the Keystone State with an unemployment rate well above the national average,” Republican Governors Association  spokesperson Chris Gustafson said in a statement. “It’s no wonder Shapiro is the Democrats’ hand-picked candidate, who else will carry on the failed policies that have left the commonwealth behind?”

Shapiro won reelection by 5 points in 2020. He had $2.7 million in his campaign account at the end of last year.