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Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro launches Democratic bid for governor

Pennsylvania is among a crop of Biden-won states where gubernatorial races will be closely watched for clues leading in the next presidential election.
Image: Josh Shapiro
Josh Shapiro at a Stand Against Hate rally at Independence Mall on March 2, 2017 in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis / Getty Images file

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who gained national prominence after investigating sexual abuse in the Catholic church and pushing back on lies about election fraud, has launched a campaign for governor.

“I understand people feel like our politics are divided and broken right now, but we can’t just take our ball and go home,” Shapiro said in a video declaring his candidacy Wednesday. “There’s too much on the line. “We all have a responsibility to show up, to stand up and to fight for what’s right.”

President Joe Biden narrowly carried battleground Pennsylvania in 2020, flipping a state Donald Trump won in 2016. The state will be among a crop of Biden-won states — including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — where 2022 gubernatorial races will be closely watched for clues leading in the next presidential election.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited in 2022, and Shapiro, 48, has long been seen as a field-clearing candidate and his party’s top option to succeed him. Republicans, meanwhile, have a large gubernatorial primary brewing, with former Rep. Lou Barletta — a losing Senate candidate in 2018 — and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale among those running.

Shapiro made frequent appearances on national TV after last year’s presidential election to rail against Trump’s false claims that a second term had been stolen from him.

“Already there are Republicans running for governor who want to lead us down a dark path, undermine free and fair elections, strip away voting rights and permanently divide us,” Shapiro said in his video. “That’s the kind of divisive politics that gets in the way of solving real problems.”

Barletta quickly responded to Shapiro’s launch Wednesday morning.

“He has zero real world experience and would lead Pennsylvania even further in the wrong direction than Wolf has,” Barletta said in a statement emailed by his campaign. “Pennsylvanians are desperate for change. I look forward to sharing my positive vision with voters — Republican, Democrat, and Independent — and how we can unite together to restore common sense to the commonwealth.”