At stake in the race for governors of Pennsylvania: abortion, presidency
By MARC LEVY, Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Voters electing a new Pennsylvania governor will choose between Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano, with the future of abortion rights at stake, as well as the handling of the presidential election of 2024 in a swing state that is often decisive.
Shapiro, the state’s two-term elected attorney general, broke Pennsylvania’s campaign finance record on a powerful campaign in a year that Democrats have faced headwinds nationwide, including high inflation.
Mastriano, a retired Army colonel and state senator, is a relative political novice who campaigned on the far right and largely refused to speak to mainstream news outlets, scuttling prospects for a debate with an independent moderator.
Polls suggest Shapiro is leading Mastriano, who has driven out moderate voters by being a top ally in former President Donald Trump’s effort to stay in power – despite his 2020 election loss – and marching to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, where he saw pro-Trump protesters attacking police.
He struggled to raise funds as he was hit by a deluge of advertisements for the Shapiro campaign, but tried to counter it with a vigorous campaign that relied on a force of passionate volunteers and daily uploaded videos. on Facebook to connect with followers.
They are vying to succeed Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term and has endorsed Shapiro. The winner will likely share power with entrenched Republican majorities in the state Legislature.
Pennsylvania polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A victory for Shapiro would make him the first Pennsylvania governor to be elected to succeed a member of his party since 1966.
Mastriano, 58, used a far-right platform to lock in the party’s most right-wing voters, win Trump’s endorsement and win a crowded nine-vote primary.
Shapiro, 49, a political force strong enough to wipe out the Democratic primary, entered the race as the all-time leading scorer in a single election in Pennsylvania, breaking the record when re-elected in 2020.
With no main challenger to force him left on key issues, Shapiro has taken middle ground on policies regarding education funding, COVID-19 mitigation and energy.
During that time, he endorsed Austin Davis, a state legislator, to be his running mate and, possibly, the first black lieutenant governor in a state that has never elected a black governor or U.S. senator.
In light of the Supreme Court’s June ruling on abortion rights, Shapiro pledged to protect Pennsylvania’s existing 24-week law. He also touted his office’s fight in court to protect the state’s 2020 election from Trump’s efforts to nullify it.
Mastriano said he supports a complete ban on abortion, no exceptions, and has been a key figure in Trump’s drive to stay in power and spread his lies about a stolen election.
He dwelt on some national GOP talking points — blaming Democrats for crime and inflation — but he also spread conspiracy theories and took a hard line on cultural issues.
Those positions — along with his actions on Jan. 6 — prompted some GOP officials to predict he was too extreme to win a general election in Pennsylvania.
Mastriano has done more than any other gubernatorial candidate in the United States to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and Democrats have accused him of preparing to unseat the next one from the governor’s office with his promises to decertify machines to vote and re-register voters.
Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter.
Read more about the issues and factors at play midterm at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.