2022 Pennsylvania primaries: What to know

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 5/11/22

PENNSYLVANIA — The 2022 primary elections are less than a week away and will likely set the tone for one of the more competitive election years in recent Pennsylvania history.

Gov. Tom Wolf …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

2022 Pennsylvania primaries: What to know

Posted

PENNSYLVANIA — The 2022 primary elections are less than a week away and will likely set the tone for one of the more competitive election years in recent Pennsylvania history.

Gov. Tom Wolf is finishing up his second and final term, Sen. Pat Toomey has chosen not to seek reelection, and Rep. Mike Peifer of Wayne and Pike counties is stepping down from his seat on the General Assembly. With so many seats up for grabs, a packed field of hopefuls is clamoring for nomination.

Here are some of the key races that PA voters will decide on May 17.

Who’s running for governor?

Republican candidates are listed in order of their position on the most recent Real Clear Politics poll.

Doug Mastriano (polling at 21 percent), an Army veteran, was elected to Pennsylvania’s 33rd District in the State Senate in 2019. He represents counties in South Central PA and currently leads the pack as he vies for the Republican nomination.

An outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, Mastriano attempted to overturn Pennsylvania’s certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the commonwealth after the 2020 presidential election. He also organized buses to bring people to the Capitol on the day of the January 6 riot and was present in Washington D.C. himself. The House committee investigating the insurrection has subpoenaed Mastriano for his involvement that day.

Lou Barletta (15 percent) is a former House member and Hazleton mayor, who made headlines in 2006 when he vowed to make that city “one of the toughest places in the United States for illegal immigrants” to live and work in. He’s spent most of the gubernatorial race neck-and-neck with Mastriano.

He unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democrat Bob Casey for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018, and is now running on promises to undo the economic harm that he says Gov. Wolf has inflicted on PA through his COVID-19 regulations. He also promises to reverse bans holding back the fossil fuel industry, push a pro-life agenda and remain tough on immigration.

Bill McSwain (14.5 percent) is a former Marine and Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney, and might be the only candidate guaranteed to not get a Trump endorsement in his bid for governor. At press time, Trump has not yet dished out a highly sought-after gubernatorial endorsement, but he has promised to not endorse McSwain. Trump panned McSwain for doing “absolutely nothing” as an attorney to fight the results of the 2020 presidential election and called him a “coward.”

Dave White (9.5 percent), a Delaware County businessman, is fourth in polling, but leads the Republican field in campaign funding, garnering $1.7 million over the first quarter of 2022. On his campaign website, White prioritizes pro-life issues and Second Amendment issues, keeping transgender women out of women’s athletics programs, rebuilding the economy and making PA “the energy capital of the world” by expediting pipeline construction and reducing regulation.

Melissa Hart (3 percent) is the only woman running on the Republican side. She attributes her lower polling figures to getting a later start in campaigning than her opponents. A Pittsburgh native, Hart wants to “bring more common sense and a little less fight” into commonwealth politics. She also opposes PA joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and would like to abolish Pennsylvania’s system of state-owned liquor and wine stores.

Jake Corman (2 percent) is the current president pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate. He had planned to withdraw from the race in April, but said he reconsidered after former President Trump apparently encouraged him continue running. Election reform is a top tenant of Corman’s race, promising, if elected, to institute voter ID rules, among other measures.

Dr. Nche Zama (2 percent), born in Africa, came to the U.S. as a teenager on a student visa “with just $20 in his pocket.” Today, he is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, running for governor to address healthcare infrastructure shortfalls and make PA a leader in education.

Joseph Gale (1.5) became the youngest commissioner in Montgomery County at age 26. He claims to be the first elected official in PA to endorse Trump for president, aligning himself closely with the former president as an outsider smeared by his own party, unafraid to shake up the status quo.

Charlie Gerow (1 percent) is the vice chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference and the American Conservative Union. As governor he wants to boost the state’s agricultural sector through better marketing and new processing plants. He also wants to get rid of personal property taxes and lower the state’s business taxes.

Josh Shapiro is the only candidate running on the Democratic ticket. As Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Shapiro was at the center of the controversy surrounding the 2020 presidential election, defending the integrity of the election results in court against the Trump administration’s claims that the votes had been rigged.

Shapiro recently ran an enigmatic campaign ad which seemed to tacitly throw some support behind a Republican candidate, Sen. Mastriano. The ad’s narrator tells viewers about some of Mastriano’s policy positions, such as that he authored a bill that would “outlaw abortion” in Pennsylvania and that he wants to end mail-in voting.

“If Mastriano wins,” the narrator says, “it’s a win for what Donald Trump stands for.”

Analysts are predicting the ad indicates a risky strategy on Shapiro’s part to boost Mastriano’s numbers among conservatives ahead of the primary, hoping that the state senator can win his party’s nomination and then make for an easy opponent in the general election in November.

Front runners in Senate race

The race to succeed Sen. Toomey could have implications for the overall balance of power in the U.S. Senate. On the Republican side, talk show celebrity Mehmet Oz—known on television as “Dr. Oz”—is running with the endorsement of former president Trump. According to recent polling, Oz remains comfortably at the top of the long list of Republicans competing for their party’s nomination. He’s followed closely by Dave McCormick, who criticizes Oz for his shifting views on abortion, the Second Amendment and other conservative hot-button topics over the years. Both candidates have been called out for not having spent much time in Pennsylvania before this race, but both have been remained the clear leaders going into the primary.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has taken a substantial lead over his three opponents, Conor Lamb, Alexandria Khalil and Malcom Kenyatta. Boosted with the most name recognition of the pack, Fetterman surged to 53 percent support—according to the most recent Franklin and Marshall College poll—compared to the next highest grossing candidate, Lamb, who garnered just 14 percent.

Familiar faces for PA’s Eighth

Mike Marsicano and Jim Bognet, both candidates in the 2020 Republican primary, are once again racing each other for the chance to run against incumbent Democrat Matt Cartwright, who represents PA’s Eighth Congressional District—encompassing much of northeast PA—in the U.S. House.

Bognet won the nomination in 2020, but lost to Cartwright in November.

Bognet—a former Trump appointee in the Import-Export Bank—and Marsicano—former mayor of Hazleton—have both made concerted efforts to outdo each other in showcasing their loyalty to Trump, one dubbing himself a “Trump Republican,” the other calling himself “the Trump conservative.” Recently, the former president gave his endorsement to Bognet.

Local race to Harrisburg

At the Wayne/Pike County level, longtime incumbent state Rep. Mike Peifer will not be seeking another term serving PA’s 139th Legislative District. Running to fill his seat on the Republican side are Wayne County Commissioner Joe Adams, local media owner and publisher Robert Beierle and Pike County resident Elefterie Balu. On the Democratic side, legal professional and advocate Meghan Rosenfeld is facing forester and environmentalist Marian Keegan.

Visit www.riverreporter.com to read interviews with Adams and Rosenfeld about their races.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here