Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D. PA) has long been a great ally for the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania. Now that he’s running for Governor, Shapiro sat down with The Philadelphia Gay News last week and laid out both his record and his agenda to continue to fight for the LGBTQ community. It’s worth a read:
As attorney general, you and your staff have held hearings around the state on the issue of nondiscrimination, but of course your office could only prosecute some of the cases because we don’t have a nondiscrimination law in the state of Pennsylvania. If elected governor, is there anything you can do that other governors have not been able to do to pass nondiscrimination? The Fairness Act has been introduced in Pennsylvania for 47 years now, since Governor Shapp, and it has been continually held up by the state house and state senate.
And I was cosponsoring these bills when I was in the legislature. We’re going to get it done when I’m governor, because I give a damn, and I’m willing to put capital behind getting the nondiscrimination bill passed. And when I sign it into law, you’ll be sitting right there with me along with others. We’re going to get this done. I also think we need to expand Pennsylvania’s hate crime law to include crimes against our LGBTQ+ people. That’s something that I sponsored when I was in the house, but also something I’ve seen firsthand as attorney general that is lacking. We need to change that. I think both of those are critically important bills and I’m going to use my political capital to get that done.
In the 2016 PGN interview when you were running for Attorney General, you said you were going to diversify the AG’s office. Can you talk about your commitment to diversity?
I’ve always said that in order to have fairness and advocacy in our justice system, the people that work in it need to look like those they are sworn to serve. And I’m proud to have the strongest, smartest, and most diverse team in the AG’s office in the history of Pennsylvania. And I would note that my two top aides, my chief of staff and my first deputy, are both members of the LGBTQ community. Think about that for a minute. In a law enforcement agency, the chief law enforcement office in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, my two top aides, a woman and a man, are both members of the LGBTQ community. I think that speaks to my commitment to diversity and to making sure that the people around the table, for me, look different, have different life and personal experiences, and bring different approaches and different ways of thinking to the table. I think that’s what makes our office even more effective than it was prior.
What should the LGBTQ community look for in a Shapiro administration that they haven’t seen in any other administration?
Look at my record. They can expect to have an administration that is inclusive and diverse. They can expect to have a governor that puts real muscle behind getting these important bills passed like banning discrmination, expanding our hate crimes laws, and banning things like conversion therapy. These are the kinds of things that we’re going to do. This will be an administration that is inclusive for the LGBTQ community, an administration where the LGBTQ community is represented, and an administration that gets these bills passed into law. The other thing I want to say is that in addition to working to advance these issues, while I’m going to Harrisburg to bring Democrats and Republicans together to get big things done, if they come for your voting rights, if they come for your reproductive rights, if they come for your rights to organize, if they put bills on my desk that are discriminatory, I will not hesitate to use my veto pen to protect Pennsylvanians. So I am prepared to play offense, to bring people together and get a lot done; I’m also prepared to play defense when it means protecting Pennsylvanians.
Speaking of LGBTQ issues, Pennsylvania could elect their first openly gay Lt. Governor with State Rep. Brian Sims (D. PA):
A well-connected Democratic organizer who’s long helped to elect LGBTQ candidates to public office will launch his own run for Congress on Monday, hoping to become the first openly gay member from Pennsylvania.
Sean Meloy, 34, of Morningside, who serves as vice president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, will run for the 17th District seat held by U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon. Mr. Lamb is running for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat, which is held by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Born and raised in Hampton, Mr. Meloy said now is a pivotal moment for the nation’s economy, environment and democracy. He says he was galvanized to run for office by the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of impact in a lot of the jobs I’ve done, but when our society gets to a point where people are rushing the Capitol to try to overturn the will of the people, something needs to happen and something is clearly broken,” Mr. Meloy told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this weekend. “I want to dig in more here and do what I can.”
By the way, Shapiro picked up a big endorsement this week:
Attorney General Josh Shapiro picked up a major endorsement in his bid for governor on Monday, earning the support of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council – a collection of four SEIU locals that represent more than 80,000 union members across the state.
The state council, which is made up of SEIU 32BJ, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, SEIU Local 668 and the Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United, plans to officially announce the endorsement Monday afternoon during a rally in Philadelphia.
In an interview with City & State, SEIU leaders touted Shapiro’s history of taking on powerful institutions, from brokering a new 10-year agreement between Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to leading a groundbreaking investigation into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that revealed widespread abuse throughout six Pennsylvania dioceses.
“What we've seen from Josh that has us really excited is that Josh has been an incredibly strong attorney general who has had a real focus in looking out for workers rights,” said Gabe Morgan, president of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council. “Josh has been very aggressive in fighting the abuse of corporate power.”
In addition to his widely-publicized battles against UPMC and the Catholic Church, Shapiro announced charges earlier this year against Glenn O. Hawbaker, a State College-based construction and design firm, for stealing more than $20 million in funds meant to go toward health, welfare and pension benefits for its prevailing wage workers. Hawbaker ultimately pleaded no contest and agreed to pay more than $20 million in restitution to more than 1,000 impacted workers.
Matt Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, highlighted the Hawbaker case, and said that Shapiro’s record as attorney general offers a glimpse into how he would govern as the state’s next chief executive.
“I think of him as a transformational leader, but definitely somebody who is proactive and is going to want to drive change and do big things and bring people together to make life better for everyone,” Yarnell said, adding that Shapiro has placed “a real focus on labor and human rights” as attorney general.
Denise Stroman, a 34-year SEIU member and janitorial worker from Philadelphia, said she supports Shapiro due to his stances on unions. “Our union is very important to me, mainly with the health care, our wages,” she told City & State. “He looks out for them kind of people. He protects me.”
Shapiro has also had to fight one of the GOP opponents before:
Jake Corman, the newest entrant to the crowded Republican gubernatorial field, said Monday that he will set himself apart by emphasizing his ability to break through gridlock and get things done with lawmakers in the institution where he has served for more than two decades.
Corman, 57, the Senate's highest-ranking member as the president pro tempore, confirmed for the first time Monday that he is running for governor.
The Republican primary field for governor is double-digits deep, something party officials can't remember ever confronting in a statewide race of such importance, and Corman enters the race as a familiar face to donors.
He has spent most of his 22-plus years helping lead the Senate's Republican majority while serving during the terms of five different governors.
"Someone who comes from the Legislature, who understands the Legislature, can work with the Legislature to get good things accomplished is something that we need," Corman said in a telephone interview. "I think we're tired of sort of the gridlock and the back-and-forth between the two."
Added Corman, "we have to solve problems. That's what we're there for."
On the Democratic side, two-term state Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the presumed nominee and has thus far cleared the primary field, having amassed a campaign account of $10 million and won two statewide races.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is term-limited and must leave office in January 2023.
With Wolf in office since 2015, Corman has been part of a Republican leadership that sent more than 50 bills to a veto on the Democrat's desk, putting Wolf on track to compile the most vetoes by any governor since Milton Shapp in the 1970s.
That includes legislation on restricting abortions in Pennsylvania - such as limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, instead of 24 - and stripping some of the authority Wolf wielded during the pandemic.
Corman also has gone to court against Wolf's pandemic policies as a plaintiff, challenging the authority of Wolf's acting health secretary to order masks to be worn inside schools and child care facilities.
Corman ousted Mastriano as the chairman of the committee investigating the 2020 election. Asked about claims by some that was an effort to handicap a potential GOP rival in the governor’s race, Corman said: “I’ll just say this: The integrity of this investigation is paramount to me and I wanted to make sure it was done in that way.”
The so-called “forensic audit” is currently pending before a court after Senate Democrats sued to block the subpoenaing of voter records as part of the review. It’s likely to become a topic on the campaign trail.
The Democratic Governors Association was already highlighting it Tuesday in an email blasting Corman’s candidacy.
“Corman is championing issuing subpoenas to get the social security numbers of 9 million residents and giving them to inexperienced third-party contractors, threatening Pennsylvanians’ personal and financial privacy,” the statement said.
Corman said his hope is the investigation moves forward to inform new election laws and restore voter confidence.
“This is not re-litigating the 2020 election,” he said. “We do not have the authority to do that. This is about improving it moving forward.”
In response to a question from the Centre Daily Times, he shared how he would ensure continued safe and secure elections as governor. He stressed that the 2020 election was safe, fair and secure, and saw both Republicans and Democrats elected to office.
As governor, he said he would want to sign a bill that would allow for mail-in ballots to be processed before Election Day, so the votes can be tallied as soon as the polls close.
“Rather than conducting this sham audit as Senator (Jake) Corman and others would like to do, what I’ve been doing is talking to Republican and Democratic county clerks and election officials and ask them, ‘what are the kinds of things that we can come together on in a bipartisan way to help our election system?’ and one example of that, and I would sign this bill as governor, is to allow pre-canvassing of our mail in ballots,” he said.
By the way, I received this e-mail today from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party that’s worth a read:
My name is Sam, and I work for the PA Democratic Party supporting rural candidates in Central PA. I want to share a story about how we organized to defeat a book-banning, conspiracy-peddling Republican — and flip two other school board seats — in a district Trump won by 15%!
You may have heard that the Central York School Board in York County banned over 300 books about Rosa Parks, MLK, and other racial justice heroes. Even Fox News called it a step too far.
What you probably haven't heard is that the school board member who spearheaded the ban just lost her seat — to a Democrat! In fact, voters TRIPLED the number of Democratic members on the Central York School Board last Tuesday.
My team worked with the county party, four brave candidates, and dozens of amazing volunteers to get out the vote. We made over 20,000 phone calls, rang 13,000 doorbells, and identified 4,000 new supporters in our little district.
We even cobbled together enough cash (from grassroots donors like you) to book a local TV ad that introduced our candidates and calmed the hysteria caused by GOP propaganda.
Our story is proof that organizing works even in dark red communities! If you can, please chip in so we can continue engaging voters and supporting local races in rural PA.
Central PA Regional Director
PA Democratic Party
P.S. One of our school board candidates won by just 23 provisional votes. THAT is the power of organizing! Chip in here to keep the momentum going: PADems.com/donate.
Click here to donate to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s efforts.
Speaking of Pennsylvania Democrats, I also received this e-mail yesterday from Democracy for America:
We’re up against entrenched corporate power that will do everything they can to stop our progressive vision from becoming reality. We already know that they are spending millions of dollars in crucial swing states to stop us from winning.
We have to be ready to fight back with a massive grassroots movement of working-class folks who are committed to supporting an agenda that puts people above profit.
That’s why we’ve endorsed Summer Lee in her bid for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.
Summer Lee is committed to bringing the fight for a Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and racial justice to Washington.
Can you rush a split contribution between Summer’s campaign and DFA today to help her win a competitive primary and get elected to Congress?
We’re honored to be supporting Summer Lee in this primary race because she has proven time and time again to be a tenacious fighter for working families, equality, justice, and improving the overall livelihood of everyone she represents.
Summer is running an impressive, truly bottom-up, grassroots campaign rooted in one of the most fearlessly progressive agendas in the nation.
Corporate America might have BIG money to spend, but we have the people. Together we can elect Summer Lee, but we need you with us.
As a member of the U.S. House, she’ll be a steadfast champion for big, bold, progressive ideas like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. Can you help her campaign build the movement she needs to win by rushing a donation now?
Thanks for being part of the team,
Chief Political Officer
Democracy for America
Click here to donate to Lee’s campaign.
Democracy and Health are on the ballot next year and we need to get ready to keep Pennsylvania Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with these Pennsylvania Democrats campaigns:
Josh Shapiro for Governor
Lori Dumas for Commonwealth Court
Brian Sims for Lt. Governor
Ed Gainey for Pittsburgh Mayor
Larry Krasner for Philadelphia District Attorney
Pennsylvania Democratic Party
Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee
Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Campaign Committee
Draw the Lines PA
Committee of Seventy
Summer Lee for Congress
Sean Meloy for Congress
Chris DeLuzio for Congress
Eugene DePasquale for Congress
Jerry Dickinson for Congress
Mary Gay Scanlon