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WESA Voter Guide

Pennsylvania Governor: A guide to the 2022 primary election and candidates

Pennsylvania Governor.png
90.5 WESA

What's at stake: The gubernatorial race may well reshape state law on issues ranging from abortion rights to gun control and voting rights. If Republicans keep their majorities in the state legislature, a GOP governor would give them full control over state government; a Democratic governor would continue the divided government the state has had since 2015. Along with legislative leaders, the governor has a major hand in crafting the state’s multi-billion-dollar budget, setting priorities for spending on k-12 education, higher ed, corrections, social programs, and more. Nine Republicans — an unusually crowded field — are competing to be the party’s nominee against lone Democrat Josh Shapiro.

Further reading: "5 takeaways from the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial debate" (Ethan Edward Coston/Kate Huangpu, Spotlight PA)

Note: Campaign finance fundraising totals include contributions raised in 2021 and 2022. Data updated 5/12/22.


Democrats

Josh Shapiro

attorney_general_josh_shapiro.jpg
Matt Rourke
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AP
Josh Shapiro

Shapiro, who has served as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General since 2017, is the only Democratic candidate in the field. He’s known for high-profile investigations of Catholic dioceses across the state and helping to broker a deal between feuding health care giants UPMC and Highmark. He previously served as a state representative and a Montgomery County commissioner. While gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates are chosen separately in Pennsylvania primaries, Shapiro has endorsed and campaigned with state Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Party: Democrat 
Experience:
Pennsylvania Attorney General (2017 – present)
Montgomery County Board of Commissioners (2012 – 2017)
Pennsylvania House of Representatives — 153rd district (2005 – 2012)
Education: University of Rochester (B.A.); Georgetown University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | TikTok
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Pennsylvania Democratic Party; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; SEIU Pennsylvania State Council
Fundraising total: $20.9 million
Worth reading: "Attorney General Josh Shapiro announces long-expected run for Pennsylvania governor" (Chris Potter, WESA)


Republicans

Lou Barletta

Election 2022 Pennsylvania Governor Lou Barletta
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
Lou Barletta

Barletta, a former Hazelton council member and mayor, gained national attention for an anti-immigrant ordinance he put forth when he ran this small Luzerne County city. He then served several terms in Congress representing Pennsylvania’s 11th district. In 2018, he was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, but lost that race by double digits to incumbent Democrat Bob Casey. Despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, he wouldn’t say if he believes the outcome was changed to benefit President Joe Biden. “No one knows that. Who can say for certain how much the election was changed to the difference that would have made? Nobody.”

Party: Republican
Experience:
U.S. House of Representatives – Pa.-11 (2011 – 2018)
Mayor of Hazleton (2001 – 2010)
Hazleton City Council (1998 – 2001)
Education: Hazleton High School
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | TikTok
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: State Senate President Pro Tempore
Jake Corman; Oil & Gas Workers Association; Luzerne County Republican Committee; Northumberland County Republican Committee. Additional endorsements here.
Fundraising total: $2.0 million
Worth reading: "GOP gubernatorial candidate cites Fern Hollow collapse in campaign email" (Chris Potter, WESA)
"Barletta to enter Pennsylvania race for governor" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)


Jake Corman
Note: Jake Corman dropped out of the governor's race on May 12, 2022 and endorsed Lou Barletta.


Joe Gale

joe gale Election 2022 Pennsylvania Governor
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Joe Gale

Gale hails from the state’s southeastern corner, where he serves as a commissioner in Montgomery County, a heavily Democratic county outside of Philadelphia. Gale previously attempted a run for lieutenant governor but was ordered off the ballot by a judge, as he would have been too young to take office were he to have won, per the state Constitution. He has touted himself as the first elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016 and has attacked a number of incumbent Republicans for past votes that allowed mail-in voting.

Party: Republican
Experience: Montgomery County Commissioner (2016 – present)
Education: Temple University (B.B.A.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter 
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: None currently available
Fundraising total: $99,095
Worth reading: "Gale force in Montgomery County politics" (Brian X. McCrone, NBC Philadelphia)


Charlie Gerow

Charlie Gerow Election 2022 Pennsylvania Governor
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Charlie Gerow

Gerow is CEO of Harrisburg-based Quantum Communications and for years has been a fixture in political media representing a Republican point of view, though he has not previously held public office. Gerow was born in Brazil and adopted by American missionaries as a child; he grew up in Pennsylvania. He previously has run unsuccessfully for Congress and the state legislature. He has declined to say if he supports former President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, telling The Associated Press, “I’m not here to relitigate what happened in 2020, and I think it's important for us to focus on the future and make sure the integrity of our elections are absolutely preserved.”

Party: Republican
Experience: CEO, Quantum Communications (2001 – present)
Education: Messiah College (B.A.), Villanova University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thomson (Pa.-15); Newt Gingrich. More here.
Fundraising total: $552,760
Worth reading: "Conservative activist Charlie Gerow to run for Pennsylvania governor" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)


Melissa Hart
Note: Melissa Hart dropped out of the governor's race on May 13, 2022 and endorsed Lou Barletta.


Doug Mastriano

Election 2020 Protests Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano
Julio Cortez
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AP
Doug Mastriano

State Sen. Mastriano, of Franklin County, has been one of the most vocal proponents of Donald Trump’s baseless 2020 conspiracies about a “stolen” election; he organized a post-election hearing in Gettysburg in late 2020 featuring Rudy Giuliani and a phone appearance by Trump. The former Army officer was outside the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 during the rioting by a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists, and he has been subpoenaed by a committee investigating the events of that day to testify. He also led protests in spring 2020 about COVID-19-related shutdowns.

Party: Republican
Experience: Pennsylvania State Senate – 33rd District (2019 – present)
Education: Eastern University (B.A.); U.S. Army War College (M.S.); Air University (M.S.); National Intelligence University (M.S.); University of New Brunswick, Canada (Ph.D.)
Links: Website| Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube 
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major Endorsements: Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (tie with Bill McSwain); former President Donald Trump
Fundraising total: $1.6 million
Worth reading: "Frontrunning Pa. governor candidate still focused on unproven election fraud claims" (David Wenner, PennLive)
"GOP fears far-right candidate will be Pennsylvania governor nominee" (Marc Levy, AP)
"Trump backs Mastriano in Pennsylvania GOP governor primary" (Marc Levy, AP)


Bill McSwain

Bill McSwain
Matt Rourke
/
AP
Bill McSwain

McSwain, of Chester County, is a Trump-appointed former federal prosecutor and former U.S. Marine. He often clashed with Democratic officials in Philadelphia during his time as U.S. Attorney there. But he was blasted by Donald Trump for not doing enough to overturn the results of the 2020 election: McSwain has blamed his former boss, Attorney General William Barr, for reining in efforts to challenge the outcome. McSwain has said if elected, his “priorities would be strengthening our economy, reducing crime, promoting school choice and pro-family policies, and securing our elections.”

Party: Republican
Experience: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2018 – 2021)
Education: Yale University (B.A.), Harvard University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs; Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (tie with state Sen. Doug Mastriano); York County GOP; former opponent Jason Richey
Fundraising total: $8.5 million
Worth reading: "Bill McSwain, ex-federal prosecutor under Trump, joins GOP governor primary" (Marc Levy, Associated Press)
"Trump slams Bill McSwain, who'd sought his endorsement for GOP governor primary" (Associated Press)


Dave White

Dave White Election 2022 Governor Pennsylvania
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
Dave White

A steamfitter who started his own HVAC company, White also served on Delaware County Council. He says he would advocate for the “same pro-business, pro-worker agenda” of former President Donald Trump.

Party: Republican
Experience:
Delaware County Council (2012 – 2017)
Ridley Township Board of Commissioners (2009 – 2012)
Education: Cardinal O'Hara High School
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Butler County GOP; North-East Central Republican Alliance (NECRA PAC); Pennsylvania GOP Southeast Caucus
Fundraising Total: $7.5 million
Worth reading:
"Amid Trump-initiated turbulence in the Pennsylvania governor race, Dave White makes his move" (Katie Meyer, WHYY)
"Former Delco councilman Dave White announces bid for GOP gubernatorial nomination" (Kathleen E. Carey, Delco Daily Times)


Nche Zama

Nche Zama Election 2022 Pennsylvania Governor
Matt Rourke
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AP
Nche Zama

Dr. Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon, came to the United States as a teenager from his native country of Cameroon. He has said he wants to improve the state’s education system, health care and economy, though his website has few policy specifics.

Party: Republican
Experience:
Director of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Arnot Health (2018 – present)
Education: University of Massachusetts (B.S.); Cleveland Clinic/ Cleveland State University (Ph.D.); University of Cincinnati (M.D.); Harvard University (M.S.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: None currently available
Fundraising total: $292,163
Worth reading: "Pa. is sick and needs a doctor, says GOP Gov. candidate Nche Zama" (Stephen Caruso, Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

What's at stake and candidate profiles for statewide races and competitive primaries in Allegheny County.

Updated: May 14, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT