Josh Shapiro officially launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign

Josh Shapiro officially launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign
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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) on Wednesday officially kicked off his gubernatorial campaign, formalizing his long-anticipated entry into the contest. 

In a video announcing his bid, Shapiro casts himself as a unifier running against a field of Republicans he says would exacerbate existing divides in the state and country.

“Each of us has a responsibility in life to get off the sidelines, get in the game and do our part to make things better,” Shapiro says. “[W]e’re in a critical time in America, here in Pennsylvania, too. Already there are Republicans running for governor who want to lead us down a dark path, undermine free and fair elections, strip away voting rights and permanently divide us. That’s the kind of divisive politics that gets in the way of solving real problems.” 

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The video also features comments of support from state Rep. Ed Gainey, the Democratic nominee for mayor of Pittsburgh, sexual abuse survivor Mary McHale and former Montgomery County Director of Finance Brian Regli.

Shapiro is starting his campaign with a hometown rally in Montgomery County on Wednesday and will begin a “Big Fights Bus Tour” on Thursday.

Shapiro, who was elected to his second term as attorney general in November, had been expected for months to get into the gubernatorial race to replace term-limited Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfJosh Shapiro officially launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign Republicans are today's Dixiecrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite MORE (D). His expected campaign largely froze the primary field, and he is expected to coast to the party’s nomination. 

He entered 2021 with $2.7 million in the bank, giving him a solid financial base from which to campaign as he starts raking in donations.

Shapiro served as a state representative and chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners board before being elected state attorney general in 2016.

Shapiro has found himself in state and national headlines in recent years amid fights with Republicans over their efforts to audit the 2020 election results and a high-profile investigation into child abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

The race to replace Wolf is one of the highest-profile gubernatorial races taking place next year given Pennsylvania’s narrow margins in recent cycles. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE won Pennsylvania by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, and President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE took the state back for Democrats by just over 1 point in November.

Shapiro may have one advantage in the race given how crowded the GOP primary has already become. While the attorney general is expected to have the field all to himself, the Republican primary is filled with a slate of candidates, including former Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaJosh Shapiro officially launches Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro enters governor's race Barletta holds wide lead over GOP rivals in early poll of Pennsylvania governor race MORE, former lieutenant governor candidate Joe Gale, activist Charlie Gerow and more.

Barletta hit Shapiro after his campaign announcement, yoking him to his party’s left flank.

“Josh Shapiro is beholden to the same radical, leftist groups that have a grip on Democrats in Washington, D.C. and would be a disaster as governor of Pennsylvania. His policies are dictated to him by leftist activists and the residents of the Commonwealth have already suffered enough,” he claimed.