by Stephen Caruso, Ethan Edward Coston, and Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA
HARRISBURG — The 2022 election for Pennsylvania governor is coming soon, and Spotlight PA wants to make sure you are prepared to make your choice.
The state’s governor wields a vast amount of power. They propose a yearly spending plan that sets the course for months of policy debates with the General Assembly on issues including education spending and taxes.
The governor also has the ability to sign into law or veto bills impacting abortion, guns, the minimum wage, health care, and more; holds vast executive powers that allow them to advance their agenda and appoint cabinet secretaries including the state’s top election official; and are the boss to tens of thousands of state employees from police troopers to environmental inspectors.
Five gubernatorial candidates will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, alongside their party’s candidate for lieutenant governor. Below, we provide brief biographies for the candidates as well as donor information from the beginning of 2021 through June 6, 2022. Then we break down where the top two candidates stand on the issues.
- The candidates
- Doug Mastriano, Republican
- Josh Shapiro, Democrat
- Christina “PK” DiGiulio, Green Party
- Matt Hackenburg, Libertarian
- Joe Soloski, Keystone Party
- On the issues
- Economy and jobs
- Election administration
- 2020 election
- Government reform
- Gun regulation
- LGBTQ rights
- Minimum wage
- Recreational marijuana legalization
Doug Mastriano, Republican
The retired Army colonel from Franklin County has spent the majority of his career in the military, becoming an elected official in 2019 when he joined the state Senate.
Mastriano has rejected interview requests from most mainstream media outlets, and has consistently blocked reporters from gaining access to his campaign stops. On his official website for the state Senate, however, Mastriano features a long list of military accomplishments — although his campaign did not respond to a request for discharge papers that provide military service information, including a person’s last duty assignment and rank, military education and specialty, and decorations and medals. Candidates for public office routinely make that record public.
On his official government website, Mastriano details a lengthy military career that includes extensive overseas service, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. He later taught at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.
As a freshman senator, he rapidly rose to prominence in the months after the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Pennsylvania. He became one of the most vocal critics of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s use of executive powers to impose mitigation measures, including statewide masking orders and business shutdowns. Mastriano also sharply criticized a waiver program for businesses to remain open — a program that was later found by the state’s top auditor to be inconsistent and unfair.
Mastriano also became the legislature’s lead defender of former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud.
He was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and has been subpoenaed by the congressional committee investigating the deadly attack. He briefly appeared before the committee in August but cut the interview short. Among other things, his attorney is fighting the terms of Mastriano’s appearance there. On Sept. 1, Mastriano sued the committee, challenging its authority to conduct what he called “compelled depositions.”
Mastriano’s running mate is state Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (R., Allegheny), a former Oakmont borough council member who beat the top state House Democrat in 2020 to come to Harrisburg.
Top donors, 2021-June 6, 2022: Mastriano’s campaign is largely built on smaller donations from within Pennsylvania.
His top donor to date: James Martin, the executive chair and former head of Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, best known for its potato rolls, who has donated a total of $110,000. (News of his contributions led to a call by consumers for a boycott of the famous buns.)
Car dealership owners Clayton Black and Steven L. Latta each contributed $50,000, tying for second place. Adams County resident Peter Sneeringer has donated just under $29,000. Contributing $25,000 each were David Z. Abel, owner of a Palmyra-based company specializing in the design and distribution of truck and auto supplies and mobile electronics; and Ola R. Yoder, who owns and runs Kountry Lane Standardbreds LLC in Nappanee, Indiana, which raises and sells racehorses.
Read more about his positions on the issues below.
Josh Shapiro, Democrat
Pennsylvania’s current attorney general, Shapiro has spent most of his professional career in government or public office.
He got his start in the 1990s in Washington, D.C., where he worked for a member of Congress and two U.S. senators. In 2004, he was elected to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, where he served four terms — or eight years — representing parts of Montgomery County in the Philadelphia suburbs.
In 2011, he was elected to Montgomery County’s Board of Commissioners, where he served until his successful 2016 run for attorney general. He is now in his second term as the state’s top prosecutor.
Critics say he is fiercely ambitious, and that the governor’s job for him is merely a stepping stone to even higher office. Still, during his time in public office, Shapiro has shown a penchant for compromise and dealmaking. It is a trait that will be necessary for any Democratic governor to navigate the Capitol, where the legislature is now under Republican control.
As attorney general, he has touted his record of investigating the role of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors in the nation’s opioid crisis and prosecuting some natural gas companies. However, the landmark national opioid settlement negotiated by Shapiro and other attorneys general across the country initially faced legal pushback from top Philadelphia leaders, including the city’s district attorney, Larry Krasner. Krasner sued the Attorney General’s office over the deal, saying it delivered only a fraction of the money the city deserved. That and a separate lawsuit by Pittsburgh’s district attorney were eventually dismissed by a state appellate court.
Shapiro’s office made international headlines for a scathing grand jury report on child sexual abuse and its coverup in nearly every Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania. But after weeks of intense negotiations, Shapiro and a bipartisan group of lawmakers and advocates were unable to secure a highly anticipated vote on legislation sought by survivors.
His running mate is state Rep. Austin Davis (D., Allegheny), a former aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald first elected to Harrisburg in 2018.
Top donors, 2021-June 6, 2022: His top five donors hail from outside Pennsylvania. They include California physician Jennifer Duda, who has contributed $1.5 million; California philanthropist and major Democratic donor Karla Jurvetson, who has donated $1 million; and Bill Harris, the one-time head of PayPal and founder of a financial technology company near San Francisco, who also has given $1 million. Shapiro has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from public and private sector unions, and more than $500,000 from the Democratic Governors Association.
Read more about his positions on the issues below.
Christina “PK” DiGiulio, Green Party
DiGiulio is a former analytical chemist for the U.S. Department of Defense and a vocal opponent of the Mariner East pipeline system. She co-founded Watchdogs of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a group that documents the harms of oil and gas infrastructure, and the Better Path Coalition, an alliance of pro-renewable energy organizations.
Digiulio’s platform includes banning fracking, providing more tax incentives for renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, decriminalizing marijuana, implementing ranked-choice voting, and passing a constitutional amendment that would allow for a graduated income tax.
Her running mate is Michael Badges-Canning, a Butler County environmental activist and perennial Green Party candidate.
Top donors, 2021-June 6, 2022: A state Green Party official said the party’s PAC is fundraising for the candidate. The party had yet to file a campaign finance report this year as of Sept. 6.
Matt Hackenburg, Libertarian
Hackenburg is a computer engineer from Northampton County. A former member of the Army National Guard, he argues that states should have the ability to nullify federal laws they disagree with, including passing laws that prevent guard members from being deployed overseas without a declaration of war and encouraging the use of precious metals and cryptocurrency instead of the U.S. dollar. He also supports rolling back public education and opposes public health mandates, gun laws, and taxes.
His running mate is York County resident Timothy McMaster.
Top donors, 2021-June 6, 2022: Hackenburg has raised $357.
Joe Soloski, Keystone Party
Soloski is a public accountant and Centre County resident. He ran his own accounting firm for 30 years in the Pittsburgh area, and he’s worked as a comptroller and financial analyst for other companies. Soloski’s platform calls for limiting government spending, keeping the minimum wage as is, reducing corporate taxes, and decriminalizing recreational cannabis. He previously ran as a Libertarian for state office in 2018 and 2020.
His running mate is York County resident Nicole Shultz, a business owner.
Top donors, 2021-June 6, 2022: He has raised $2,686 from small donors.
On the issues
Spotlight PA focused on the positions of Mastriano and Shapiro, as they are leading other candidates by a high margin in current polls and fundraising. The following information was gathered from campaign websites, social media posts by the candidates, news releases about their campaign platforms, and news articles.
Mastriano has called abortion his “No. 1 issue” and compared the effort to ban the procedure to the fight to end the slave trade during an April primary debate. He has twice introduced legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and does not support exceptions for rape, incest, or parental health.
Shapiro has condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark ruling that provided a constitutional guarantee to abortion, calling it “a shameful moment for our country and for the Court.” He has pledged to veto any legislation that would further limit access to abortion in Pennsylvania, where state law allows abortions to be performed up to about 24 weeks into a pregnancy or longer if the life of the pregnant person is in danger.
Economy and jobs
Mastriano has said he would establish a “strike force” within each state agency that would aim to slash at least 55,000 statewide regulations in his first year in office. He also wants to work with the legislature to eliminate two regulations for every new one created. He has said he would lift certain taxes and regulations on natural gas drillers, although his campaign has not specified which ones. As a state senator, he has sponsored legislation that would reverse the Wolf administration’s moratorium on new leases for natural gas exploration in state parks and forests.
Shapiro has advocated for developing innovation hubs — including around manufacturing, life sciences, and national defense technologies — and connecting businesses in those industries with research institutions and research and development funding. He said he would also create a new office of economic growth and development to help businesses wanting to expand or relocate to Pennsylvania navigate the permitting and regulation process.
Shapiro has said he would create jobs by plugging abandoned wells, modernizing homes and businesses through energy efficiency programs, investing in sewer and stormwater projects, and repairing structurally deficient bridges and roads.
Mastriano said in a March radio interview that he wants to reduce state per-student public school funding from $19,000 to $10,000 a year, while creating education opportunity accounts,” or a restricted fund that parents can use to fund their child’s education at a public or private school. He wants to ban “critical race theory” curricula — an academic concept that has become a catchall term in right-wing spheres to describe anti-racism teachings — through an executive order within his first 100 days in office.
This paragraph has been updated.
Shapiro has campaigned as a strong supporter of public schools. In May, his office filed a court brief in support of six school districts and others who have sued the state over what they contend is an unfair funding system that has led to chronic disinvestment in some schools. He has advocated for less reliance on standardized tests, and for putting more vocational, technical, and computer training in classrooms. He has said that if elected, he would appoint at least two parents to the state Board of Education, the highest educational authority in the state that creates academic standards.
Mastriano supports repealing Act 77, the 2019 law that allows any voter to cast a ballot by mail. He wants to enact “universal ID” for voting (Pennsylvania already requires people to show ID if they are first-time voters or voting for the first time at a polling place). He also wants every eligible voter in Pennsylvania to re-register, a proposal that critics say would violate federal law.
He has decided who he would appoint to run the state office that oversees elections in Pennsylvania — a position that will have tremendous influence and power over setting policies and providing guidance during the next presidential election in 2024 — but has refused to publicly identify that person.
Shapiro has said he would veto any effort to restrict mail voting. He has said he is open to discussing adding voter ID requirements with Republicans who control the General Assembly, but has stated he will not support any measure that disenfranchises voters.
He supports expanding automatic voter registration, setting up early, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and implementing same-day voter registration through the day of an election.
Mastriano has been perhaps the state’s most prominent purveyor of Trump’s efforts to discredit the results of the 2020 presidential election and cast doubt over the credibility of Pennsylvania’s voting systems. He spearheaded a controversial hearing in Gettysburg in the weeks after the November 2020 election that fueled Trump’s misinformation campaign that the election was rigged. He sponsored a resolution shortly after the 2020 election that proposed giving the GOP-controlled legislature the power to designate its own slate of presidential electors and was the driving force behind a push for a so-called “forensic audit” of the 2020 election.
The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection subpoenaed Mastriano earlier this year seeking documents related to the Trump campaign’s efforts to name an alternate slate of electors in Pennsylvania.
Shapiro’s Office of Attorney General played a key role in defending the state in the months after the November 2020 election, when former President Donald Trump and his allies filed an onslaught of lawsuits seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results. He has said that “dangerous lies” about that election, coupled with conspiracy theories and “frivolous” litigation that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, have fueled attacks on voting access.
Mastriano has promised to pull Pennsylvania out of RGGI — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an interstate program aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power plants — on the first day of his administration. In a 2018 interview, he called climate change “fake science,” and has vowed as governor to encourage more energy production. As a senator he introduced legislation that would allow new drilling in state parks, reduce permitting fees, and exempt gas producers from the state’s corporate income tax.
Shapiro has argued Pennsylvania can retain its position as a top energy-producing state while also setting aggressive climate action goals. Under his watch in 2020, the Office of Attorney General released a grand jury report that found government agencies had failed to properly oversee and regulate the fracking industry and recommended a series of regulatory and transparency changes. His office has prosecuted gas drillers and criminally charged pipeline developers with environmental crimes. Shapiro has not committed to keeping Pennsylvania in RGGI. On climate action, Shapiro has set a target of generating 30% of Pennsylvania’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Government ethics and transparency
Mastriano supports a ban on gifts to lawmakers. He has also floated a bill that would reduce lawmakers’ pay and benefits by axing an automatic annual pay raise for legislators and judges, and one that would ban state lawmakers from leasing state-owned vehicles. He also has proposed bills that would expand the state’s open records law and place term limits on school board members.
Shapiro has said he would sign legislation that would ban elected officials and public employees from accepting gifts. He opposes term limits, arguing that restricting elected officials to a specific time in public service would empower lobbyists and special interest groups rather than voters. Shapiro also advocates for more frequent and thorough reporting of campaign donations and expenditures. Though he supports limits on donations to candidates, he argues that alone would be ineffective unless there are also stricter restrictions on so-called “dark money” — contributions from certain nonprofits, or “social welfare” organizations, that can accept unlimited amounts of money and do not have to disclose their donors.
Mastriano in 2021 introduced a bill that would ban the enforcement of federal gun laws in Pennsylvania and voted in favor of legislation that would allow permitless concealed carry. He was endorsed during the primary by Gun Owners of America, a self-proclaimed “no compromise” gun rights group that has called the National Rifle Association too soft on the Second Amendment.
Shapiro supports stricter gun safety measures, including enacting universal background checks and a “red flag” law, which would allow for the temporary confiscation of firearms from people deemed by a judge to be a risk to themselves or others. As attorney general, he has staunchly advocated for closing a loophole that allows people to buy so-called ghost guns — unserialized firearms often assembled at home from weapon parts or kits that can be purchased without a background check.
Mastriano has a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights. In his war college thesis over 20 years ago, he condemned allowing gay people into the military. He opposes marriage rights and adoption rights for same-sex couples. As a state senator, he voted for a sports ban that targets transgender girls and women and a ban on teaching children about sexual orientation and gender identity. On Twitter, he likened teaching about LGBTQ people in schools to pedophilia, amplifying rhetoric that has led to increased violence against the community.
Shapiro has said he will push for Pennsylvania to expand nondiscrimination protections to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a long-held priority for Democrats blocked by legislative Republicans. Shapiro supports expanding the state’s hate crimes law to cover LGBTQ communities and banning conversion therapy for minors.
Mastriano was one of seven state senators in 2019 who voted against raising the state’s minimum wage to $9.50.
Shapiro supports raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour.
Recreational marijuana legalization
Mastriano has called legalizing recreational marijuana “a stupid idea.”
Shapiro formerly opposed legalizing recreational marijuana, but has said he would sign a legalization bill if elected governor. He would also support expunging the records of people with nonviolent offenses related to marijuana.
Mastriano wants to eliminate property taxes, which help fund school districts, as well as lower the state’s corporate net income tax (which was just reduced as part of the 2022-23 budget) and the gas tax, which is among the highest in the country.
Shapiro wants to send a $250 gas tax refund for every personal passenger car registered in Pennsylvania (for up to four per household). He is also calling to eliminate the state’s 11% sales tax on cell phone service. He has said he would expand Pennsylvania’s Property Tax and Rent Rebate program, which benefits older Pennsylvanians, widows and widowers, and residents with disabilities. His campaign said Shapiro would use surplus state dollars, among other revenue sources, to pay for the tax plan. Shapiro also supports further reducing the state’s corporate net income tax.
READ MORE ELECTION 2022 COVERAGE:
- Ahead of pivotal 2022 Pa. election, Wolf administration expands access to voter registration forms
- Pa. Supreme Court upholds no-excuse mail voting ahead of midterms
- How Pennsylvania keeps its voter rolls clean and updated
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