Democrat Josh Shapiro wins Pennsylvania governor’s race

Attorney General Josh Shapiro has won the Pennsylvania governor’s race, keeping the state’s executive branch under Democratic control and alleviating concerns about his opponent undermining the 2024 election.

With the incumbent, Tom Wolf, term-limited out of office, Shapiro defeated Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano to fill the open seat. Shapiro, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, had led Mastriano in the polls all year.

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The Democrat benefited from high name recognition in the state, while the far-right Mastriano struggled to win over moderate GOP voters.

Shapiro had won statewide office twice before. And without a primary challenger, he was able to quickly raise money and attack Mastriano before the Republican had even won the GOP nomination.

Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, the state&#39;s attorney general, attends an election night event, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Oaks, Pa. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)
Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, the state's attorney general, attends an election night event, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Oaks, Pa. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

Mastriano, a former Army colonel who won a special election in 2019 for a state Senate seat in south-central Pennsylvania, had worked with then-President Donald Trump’s legal team in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. He also attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol.

Advocates for fair elections were worried that if Mastriano were to be governor in 2024, he might attempt to obstruct the certification of the state’s Electoral College votes if a Democrat won that year’s presidential race. In Pennsylvania, the governor selects the secretary of state, who serves as chief election officer.

Shapiro embraced and espoused his Jewish faith throughout the campaign, while criticizing Mastriano’s ties to Gab, a far-right social media platform seen as a haven for antisemites. The Keystone State first elected a Jewish governor in 1970, Democrat Milton Shapp, who had changed his name over fears of antisemitism.

Doug Mastriano, in red baseball cap, bows his head.
Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, speaks to the media after a rally at Spooky Nook Sports Complex on Oct. 29 in Manheim, Pa. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Numerous Republicans announced their support for Shapiro over the course of the campaign, and while former GOP Gov. Tom Ridge declined to endorse in the race, he called Shapiro “a very impressive man.” Shapiro has even been touted as a future Democratic candidate for president.

Mastriano’s successful GOP primary campaign benefited from his presence on social media. But he struggled to raise funds and did not begin running television ads until late in the general election campaign. A group supporting him that was running anti-Shapiro ads stopped doing so at the end of September.

Shapiro also focused on the issue of reproductive rights, highlighting Mastriano’s call for a complete abortion ban. With Pennsylvania’s Legislature expected to stay in Republican control, Shapiro has vowed to veto any new restrictions. Wolf vetoed multiple abortion restrictions during his eight years in office.

In September, a Mastriano campaign adviser called for supporters to push the Republican Governors Association to get involved in the race. Appearing on a Facebook livestream, Mastriano noted that he was “really not finding a lot of support from the national-level Republican organizations.”

Over the summer, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey — the RGA chairman — said the group would not “fund lost causes.” One of the few prominent Republicans to stand with Mastriano, however, was Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who held a campaign event with him in August.