Voters Guide 2022: What to know about Pa.’s races for governor and U.S. Senate

The eyes of the country are on Pennsylvania this midterm campaign cycle, with a pair of major races on the ballot

By: - September 25, 2022 6:30 am

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Every election is consequential. But when Pennsylvania voters cast their ballots this midterm campaign season, the eyes of the nation will be on them.

In addition to races for the General Assembly and Congress, Keystone State voters will choose candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate. You can check out our Election 2022 page for full coverage on the candidates and the issues and personalities that are shaping these contests.

For information on how to make sure you’re registered and ready to vote in the Nov. 8 election, you can check out our coverage here.

The race for U.S. Senate

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman (L) and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz (R) Campaign file photos
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman (L) and Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz (R)
Campaign file photos

John Fetterman

Fetterman, 53, currently serves as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and heads the state Board of Pardons. He lives outside Pittsburgh in Braddock, where he served as mayor from 2006 to 2019. Fetterman supports legalizing adult-use cannabis and keeping abortion accessible. He also officiated same-sex marriage before it was legal in Pennsylvania.

Throughout the primary and general election campaigns, Fetterman has faced scrutiny for a 2013 incident where he confronted an unarmed Black man with a shotgun. No one was charged with a crime related to the event, and he has refused to apologize for his actions.

If elected to the U.S. Senate, Fetterman said he would support abolishing the filibuster and would use upholding Roe v. Wade as a “litmus test” for any U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Following the overturning of Roe in June, Fetterman has touted his abortion platform, saying he would support codifying Roe into federal law.

He has argued that it’s possible to address the climate crisis without banning non-renewable energy sources, prompting accusations of flip-flopping on the issue from his opponents in the May primary.

Fetterman said he would work to produce more goods in the United States. He said he would strengthen “Buy American” requirements for companies that do business with the federal government and mandate companies make products in the United States. Fetterman supports cutting taxes for working people and banning members of Congress from trading stocks.

Fetterman, a gun owner, supports universal background checks and red flag laws.

Before the May primary election, Fetterman suffered a stroke and underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. He was sidelined from physically appearing on the campaign trail until mid-August. His campaign has said Fetterman’s doctors think he will make a full recovery and is fit to serve in public office.

Mehmet Oz

Oz, 62, is best known as a celebrity heart surgeon and TV personality. He has faced backlash for promoting false COVID-19 treatments and scrutiny over his residency, having lived in New Jersey for decades.

Oz registered to vote in Pennsylvania in 2020, using his in-laws’ Montgomery County address. However, social media posts and a campaign video still show Oz spending time at his mansion in Cliffside Park, N.J. He also has Turkish citizenship but said he would renounce it if elected to the U.S. Senate.

The celebrity doctor turned GOP nominee is endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race.

Oz supports restricting abortion access — but that wasn’t always the case. Oz, who defended Roe v. Wade in 2019, has faced scrutiny over his stance on abortion. Fetterman — who supports codifying Roe v. Wade in federal law and eliminating the filibuster — has accused Oz of flip-flopping on the issue.

Oz told reporters at a press conference in Philadelphia in September that he would not support criminal penalties for people who sought or doctors who performed abortions. Describing himself as “strongly pro-life,” he added that he supports exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is at risk.

But audio from a tele-town hall, held one week before the May primary election, fueled questions about Oz’s position on abortion. In the recording, first reported by The Daily Beast, Oz said: “Life starts at conception.” 

He added: “It’s still murder if you were to terminate a child whether their heart’s beating or not.”

Oz, a gun owner, opposes red flag laws. He blames President Joe Biden for inflation, citing “reckless spending.”

He also said he would support legislation to protect marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The Race for Pennsylvania Governor

Republican governor candidate Doug Mastriano (L) and Democratic governor candidate Josh Shapiro (R) | Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek

Doug Mastriano

The Republican nominee for governor is Doug Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, who emerged as an unlikely winner among nine primary candidates. His running mate for lieutenant governor is state Rep. Carrie DelRosso, 47, who has represented her Allegheny County district since 2020.

Mastriano, 58, entered politics with an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2018 after retiring from a 30-year career in the U.S. Army. He was elected in a special election the following year to his south-central Pennsylvania Senate district. 

As a gubernatorial candidate, Mastriano has campaigned on a far-right platform that includes banning abortion, barring gender theory and discussion of race and racism in public schools, and reducing public education funding to provide vouchers for parents to send children to a school of their choice.

A projection of school funding and staffing reductions based on Mastriano’s public statements about eliminating school property taxes, slashing per-pupil spending and providing school choice vouchers shows some school districts could see their revenue reduced by up to 67 percent.

Mastriano has said he will eliminate thousands of regulations on businesses, withdraw from a regional compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry. Mastriano has also proposed striking Pennsylvania’s voter registration rolls and requiring voters to re-register. 

Mastriano has been widely criticized for hiring the alt-right social media platform to engage with voters. The site was the platform used to post anti-semitic screeds by the man accused of killing 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

Identified as a key player in the scheme to overturn the 2020 election results, Mastriano has also been criticized for paying to bus supporters of former President Donald Trump to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, and appearing in photos taken on the U.S. Capitol grounds during the insurrection.

Josh Shapiro

Shapiro, 49, the current state attorney general, is the Democratic nominee for governor. As the only Democratic candidate in the primary, he endorsed state Rep. Austin Davis, 32, from Allegheny County, who won the three-way primary for lieutenant governor.

Shapiro was elected to three terms as a state representative in Montgomery County and served as a county commissioner from 2011 until he was elected attorney general in 2017. 

Davis, worked in Allegheny County government until he was elected to the state House in a 2018 special election for a vacant seat. Davis has been re-elected twice and would be, if elected, the commonwealth’s first  Black lieutenant governor.

Shapiro has campaigned on his record as attorney general touting his success exposing sexual abuse in Catholic dioceses across the state, prosecuting drug dealers, consumer protection including access to health care and reproductive health care, holding drug companies accountable for perpetuating the opioid crisis, prosecuting wage theft, and leading police reform.

Shapiro’s policy proposals include protecting abortion access, promoting business growth and expanding career training, fully funding public education, lowering the cost of health care and protecting voting rights.

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