Thirty seconds into his official campaign for governor in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro wanted to talk about voting rights.
The newly minted Democratic nominee announced his expected candidacy for governor in a two-minute video that quickly turned to the issue. It’s a topic he knows very well: As attorney general in Pennsylvania, Shapiro is the first president of the United States after the former president’s 2020 election loss to Donald J. are defending against a stream of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies.
The 2022 races for governor in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have been watched over by Democrats A sea wall against the rising Republican tide Voting restrictions and far-reaching election laws. All three states have Republican-controlled legislatures that attempted to pass new voting laws but were blocked by the threat of a veto, and Republican candidates advocated for new voting laws.
Pennsylvania is the only state that has open running, as the current government limits Tom Wolf from running again. Mr. Wolf left his support behind Years before Mr. Shapiro announced, helping to clean up the democratic sphere.
We spoke to Mr. Shapiro on Wednesday as he went to his homecoming rally in Montgomery County.
This interview has been succinctly and lightly edited for clarity.
Your announcement video first and foremost focuses on the threats to democracy. How do you walk on that as a candidate?
Josh Shapiro: The right to vote will be a central issue in this election. And it will definitely be the focal point of my campaign. There is a clear distinction between me and my dozen Republican opponents. They are fueling big lies, and pass these far-flung litmus tests with their audits. And they are doing real destruction to our democracy. I believe the main focus of this campaign will be on the protection of our democracy and the protection of voting rights.
Are you concerned about the exaggerated threats to democracy, especially as the National Democrats in Congress are at an impasse and not taking drastic steps to address it?
I think our democracy is really under threat. The only reason Pennsylvania hasn’t suffered with a rollback of voting rights to Texas and Georgia is because of our governor’s veto pen. We need to protect the right to vote. And I want to work with people from both parties to expand voting rights.
What do you think should be specifically focused on when talking about these threats to Democratic candidates and voting rights across the country?
I don’t think I can speak for any other candidate, I can only speak for myself. I am a proud Pennsylvania Democrat, and here in Pennsylvania, we were the birthplace of our democracy. And we have a special responsibility here to protect it. And I believe that the next governor of Pennsylvania will have a deep responsibility to make that work. You know where I stand: Expand voting rights, protect our democracy.
You reference “working the aisle” in your speech Wednesday in Pittsburgh. But with the Pennsylvania legislature you’re currently suing over an attempt to gain private voter information, how do you plan to work with them?
I sued those Republican Pennsylvania senators because I believe they are breaking the law by compromising the private information of 9 million Pennsylvania voters. And in fact, today, as Attorney General, I will file a short reply on that matter. But the reason I think I can work with him and others is because of a long track throughout my career of bringing sides together, finding common ground, and working to benefit the people of Pennsylvania. is record.
But is there any aspect of voting rights where you’ve seen common ground with Republicans in the state legislature?
I’ve talked to Republican commissioners, state lawmakers and election officials who have told me, let’s pass a law that allows us to pre-poll mail-in ballots like they do in Florida and North Carolina and Ohio. are, for example. This is an example where we can find common ground.
The California recall election showed how quickly allegations of “rigged elections” are made. How do you view governance in an era where conquerors are considered illegitimate by some of their constituents?
Unfortunately, Republican leaders here in Pennsylvania have been lying to their constituents for the past 10 months, lying to them about the election, lying to them about the results, while the truth is that we have a safe place in Pennsylvania. and held safe, free and fair elections. . So it is not surprising to me that some people in the public question things when their leaders have been lying to them. It is the responsibility of the leaders to speak the truth. That’s what I’ve tried to do as Attorney General. And what I will definitely do as governor. The public deserves no less than this.
Democrats across the country found success in 2018 with a focus on health care, drug prices and jobs. Now that focus has been lost between infrastructure and the reconciliation bill. Are you worried about running without a national unifying message for Democrats?
I’m running as a Pennsylvania Democrat, with a clear message of taking on the big fights, bringing people together, and delivering real results to the people of Pennsylvania. That is the focus of my campaign.
OK, so will this include 2018 messages like health care and jobs? Or has it changed something else?
The national issues you are talking about are not my concern. My focus is on the issues on the ground here in Pennsylvania. I just talked about in Pittsburgh, for example, that we need to rebuild our infrastructure, repair roads and bridges, and connect every single Pennsylvania, from Wainsburg in southwestern Pennsylvania to West Philadelphia, to the Internet. Really taking advantage of our universities to be able to be centers of innovation. Making sure that we here in Pennsylvania tackle some of the systemic inequalities in our education and health care systems. Those are the issues I’m focusing on, and they’re issues I know are important to the good people of Pennsylvania.
But I believe going back to the first question you asked, it becomes difficult to approach those issues if we do not shore up our democracy. And that’s why I think democracy and the right to vote is such a central theme. And if we can make sure that our democracy is strong, we can work through these other critically important issues.