November 28, 2022

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HARRISBURG — Democrat Josh Shapiro has won the election to become Pennsylvania’s 48th governor, earning a decisive victory over far-right Republican Doug Mastriano.

The Associated Press called the race for Shapiro around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, with 82% of the vote. By then, the Democrat had garnered 54.6% of the vote, according to unofficial results.

“While my name was on the ballot it was still your rights, it was still your future that was at stake right here in the Commonwealth,” Shapiro said at a county victory party of Montgomery. “It was a test of whether or not we value our rights and freedoms and believe in opportunity for all Pennsylvanians. And tonight, I stand humbly before you as governor-elect knowing that you have met this moment.

AP election analysts call races when a ‘tail candidate has run out of path to victory’ – an assessment the outlet makes by studying county-by-county vote totals and comparing returns with ballots remaining to be counted.

Mastriano, a Franklin County state senator, addressed supporters at a Camp Hill campaign party shortly before midnight and did not back down.

Earlier in the evening, around 10 p.m. – after a prayer asked God to prevent fraud and a band played “Don’t Stop Believin’” – Mastriano urged hundreds of supporters to keep their faith in his electoral chances.

“We’re going to take this fight all the way to Harrisburg,” Mastriano said. “This movement is unstoppable.”

Later, he told the crowd that his campaign would “patiently wait to see what the people of Pennsylvania would say. And what the people of Pennsylvania have said, of course we will respect that.

Mastriano was one of Pennsylvania’s most prominent proponents of baseless voter fraud theories and had falsely claimed before Election Day that the slower pace of results due to mail-in ballots was an “attempt to ‘have the fix’.

Shapiro, of Montgomery County, has served as Commonwealth Attorney General since 2016. He spent decades in Pennsylvania politics and is widely considered a moderate with a knack for building consensus and cutting tricky deals behind the scenes.

In his run for governor, he has sought to present himself as the reasonable choice over Mastriano. In one advertisement, he called his opponent’s stated opposition to abortion in any case “far too extreme”.

Shapiro, who says he supports current Pennsylvania abortion laws that allow the procedure for up to 24 weeks and later in medical emergencies, looked into the matter after the cancellation of the United States Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wadeanticipating that voters would be galvanized by the decision.

In other ads, Shapiro highlighted a 2001 thesis that Mastriano wrote, calling it a “weird manifesto,” noted his opponent’s connection to QAnon conspiracy theorists, and pointed to a donation that Mastriano received from the founder of the right-wing site Gab, which often features Semitic and white supremacist anti-speech.

For his part, Mastriano tried to argue throughout the race that his views, and not those of Shapiro, are in fact those of the mainstream. More often than not, he bases this case on Shapiro’s defense of the state’s COVID-19 precautions as attorney general, and also blames Shapiro for crime rates and affirms without specific examples that Shapiro supports “gender woke ideology” and the “sexualization of minors”.

Doug Mastriano takes the stage with his wife Rebbie during his election night at Camp Hill. (Photo by Amanda Berg/Spotlight PA)

Shapiro has attempted to find common ground on some of Pennsylvania’s most contentious issues — in some cases, avoiding taking hard-line positions.

During the election campaign, he avoided saying whether he would keep Pennsylvania in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a plan in which energy producers buy allowances to emit carbon dioxide, the profits of which are invested in renewable energies. renewable.

He has been a proponent of investing more money in public schools and channeling that money through a funding formula designed to distribute resources more equitably. At the same time, he has taken a position that some fellow Democrats see as contradictory — arguing that Pennsylvania should fund scholarships allowing students to leave public schools for private ones, if they choose.

As attorney general, Shapiro’s office frequently went to court to defend Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 policies, which included school and business closures and mask mandates.

But during his gubernatorial run, Shapiro broke with Wolf and much of the rest of his party, saying he thinks “people got it wrong” about school and business closures, and that opposes mask and vaccine mandates.

After riding through a primary in which he managed to become the only mainstream Democratic candidate, Shapiro entered the general election with a formidable financial advantage over Mastriano’s restricted campaign.

This difference only worsened as Mastriano failed to win the support of major Republican donors, and Shapiro amassed a historically deep campaign chest. His supporters included Republicans who opposed Mastriano as their party’s candidate, as well as national and state Democratic groups and labor unions.

After working for Democrats in Washington, DC, Shapiro began his elected career as a state representative in 2005, flipping a Montgomery County seat that Republicans had held for 20 years. Six years later, he was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and became its chairman, again ushering in significant political change – the first time in history that Democrats had a majority in Montgomery County government. .

It was in these roles that Shapiro began to build his reputation as a pragmatist.

As a state representative, he helped negotiate a new platform that allowed Democrats to elect a hand-picked, cooperative Republican as speaker of the state House in order to maintain power in the chamber for a period. tightly divided control. As commissioner, his fellow county officials credited him with helping broker a period of unanimity in a council that had often been publicly acrimonious.

In 2016, with state Attorney General Kathleen Kane being impeached and her attorney’s license suspended, Shapiro was elected to her first statewide position. He promised to restore stability to a scandal-ridden attorney general’s office.

In the years since, he may have become best known for the bureau’s 2018 release of a landmark grand jury report into longstanding child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses.

Other high-profile efforts during his tenure include criminally indicting the energy company responsible for a controversial gas pipeline project, adding Pennsylvania to dozens of nationwide lawsuits against the Trump administration for things like family separation at the southern border and reduced access to contraception. , and defending Pennsylvania election laws against the Trump campaign and efforts by fellow Republicans to invalidate ballots.

Shapiro will take over the governorship from Wolf, who was elected to two terms and constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third. His election marks the first time since 1967 that Pennsylvania has elected two consecutive governors from the same party.

The state’s next lieutenant governor will be state Rep. Austin Davis (D., Allegheny), the first black person to hold the office. Davis said in a speech Tuesday that it is “a moment that defines us as a Commonwealth, that tells extremists…we will not back down and we will never back down.”

After Shapiro declared victory on Tuesday, fans Liza Takiya and Raj Sharma, a married couple from Montgomery County, said they were relieved Mastriano didn’t win.

“Ecstatic,” Sharma said. “We are so thrilled,” Takiya added.

For Lee Geisler, who stood in the crowd waiting to meet Shapiro while carrying a large Shapiro sign and holding one for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, the victory was personal.

“I’m gay and I’m married,” he said. “I really believe Doug Mastriano is talking about taking us back to the 1940s, 50s.”

But Geisler, who is 65 and lives in Philadelphia, said he doesn’t just support Shapiro because he doesn’t like Mastriano.

“He’s not afraid of a fight,” Geisler said. “And I think we need more Democrats who are a little less shy.”

Spotlight PA’s Angela Couloumbis and Stephen Caruso contributed reporting.

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