HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro will announce his run for governor this week in Pittsburgh.
As KDKA political editor Jon Delano has confirmed, Shapiro will make his announcement on Wednesday morning on the North Shore.
It's the worst kept secret in state politics, but Shapiro has picked Pittsburgh to make it official and kick off his 2022 campaign for governor.
"Josh Shapiro will be announcing his candidacy for governor here in Pittsburgh, and of course we're always delighted to have the focus on western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh," Nancy Patton Mills, chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, told Jon Delano on Monday.
Shapiro, a native of Montgomery County in suburban Philadelphia, picked Pittsburgh, says Mills, because this region helped deliver the state to President Biden in 2020.
"Not only in Allegheny County but in neighboring counties, and I know that Attorney General Shapiro recognizes the successes that we've had here in this region of Pennsylvania, and he's chosen us to start and we're delighted with it," says Mills. "I think it's a smart move for him."
Allegheny County chief executive Rich Fitzgerald says Shapiro's strength comes from the tough issues he's taken on like predator priests in the Catholic Church and the UPMC-Highmark controversy.
"Because of some of the issues he's worked on – the UPMC Highmark issue of a couple years ago. We sometimes forget, it's in our rearview mirror, but it was a big issue at the time that people were going to be denied access to their health care provider," says Fitzgerald.
What surprises many is that for the first time in memory, Shapiro does not seem to have any opposition in the Democratic Party, says long-time Democratic strategist Mike Mikus.
"I do not anticipate any serious challengers to Josh Shapiro. He's done an amazing job," says Mikus. "While he's strengthened himself for the general election by appealing to the center, he has also appealed to many of the people in the Democratic base."
In 2020 when Shapiro ran for reelection as attorney general, in southeastern Pennsylvania he ran a point or two behind President Biden, but in this region, he ran three to seven points ahead of Biden.
"Josh Shapiro has run very well here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Last year's election he actually ran ahead of everybody on the ballot, including President Biden," says Fitzgerald.
Shapiro needs to break the 8-year jinx.
Since World War II, the governor's office has switched parties every eight years. After eight years of Democrat Wolf, Republicans think it's their turn.
Democrats don't buy it.
"I think everything has flipped," says Mills. "I think everything has changed. I don't think we can look at any of the old norms."
Whether the jinx is broken or not, everybody expects a tight race for governor in 2022.
"Pennsylvania is a very difficult state. Regardless of who the Republicans put up, it's going to be a tough fight," says Mikus.
Right now, there are nine possible Republican candidates to take on Shapiro.
The best known is former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018. Others in the race officially include Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, Pittsburgh attorney Jason Ritchey, political strategist Charlie Gerow, chamber CEO Guy Ciarrocchi and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.
Both parties pick their nominees in seven months on May 17.
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