Josh Shapiro bets tough message on crime, economy will outrun red wave in Pennsylvania


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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is leaning into crime and the economy in his campaign for governor this year, even as other fellow Democrats find themselves playing defense on the issues.  

Shapiro, who has led nearly all public polling in the race, told Fox News Digital during an interview Thursday that his campaign was tailored toward issues important to voters in the Keystone State. 

“I take my cues from Washington County, Pennsylvania, not Washington, D.C.,” said Shapiro, invoking a heavily Republican county in the southwest part of the state. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to that national stuff, I’m really focused on Pennsylvania and trying to grow our economy here, create jobs here.” 

Part of that strategy entails confronting the issues of crime and the economy head on. Polls show that voters across the country are concerned about 40-year high inflation and spiking crime rates in America’s cities. 

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“I take my cues from Washington County, Pennsylvania, not Washington, D.C.,” said Shapiro. (Fox News Digital/Haris Alic)
(Fox News Digital/Haris Alic)

In Pennsylvania, in particular, the economy continues to struggle with the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw businesses shutter — many never to reopen. As of July, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was higher than the national average. 

The Keystone State has also seen an explosion in violent crime, especially in its most populous city of Philadelphia. As of early August, more than 1,400 people had been shot within the city’s limits alone. 

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Shapiro, who has served as Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer since 2017, is not ducking either issue. The attorney general’s campaign is championing policies to address both the economic and public safety crisis. 

“I want to be a governor that creates jobs in Pennsylvania,” said Shapiro. “There’s a couple of ways you got to do that. Number one, you got to invest in workforce development … and you have to create an aggressive business environment, which requires us to cut taxes.” 

Shapiro specifically is proposing to slash the state’s nearly 10% corporate tax rate to 4% by 2025. Pennsylvania’s legislature passed legislation earlier this year that would lower the corporate tax rate to 4.99% by 2031, but the attorney general says that does not go far enough quickly enough. 

https://www.videosprofitnetwork.com/watch.xml?key=019faf0ba059e9646f978d9dc2d65b2e
As of early August, more than 1,400 people had been shot within the city limits of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

As of early August, more than 1,400 people had been shot within the city limits of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(The Associated Press)

“We have the second-highest business taxes in the nation,” said Shapiro. “I want us to be amongst the lowest.” 

Having presided over the state’s law enforcement infrastructure for nearly six years, however, Shapiro argued that economic growth cannot happen without addressing the rising crime rate. 

“We could do great things on education, great things on workforce development and growing the economy,” he said. “But if it’s not a safe place to live, none of those things are going to take root.” 

To bolster public safety, Shapiro is pledging to boost funding for law enforcement and add more than 2,000 police officers across Pennsylvania. The attorney general says that investment must come with accountability measures and a commitment to community policing. 

“The more police officers we hire, the more opportunities we have for them to get out of their patrol cars, walk the beat, learn the names of the kids in the communities,” said Shapiro. “We [can] create a level of humanity and cooperation between the police and the community that’s going to help make us safer.” 

"We are the 12 highest in the nation when it comes to statewide homicides, eighth highest in overdose poisonings," said Mastriano. "He's done nothing about these statistics." (REUTERS/Hannah Beier)

“We are the 12 highest in the nation when it comes to statewide homicides, eighth highest in overdose poisonings,” said Mastriano. “He’s done nothing about these statistics.” (REUTERS/Hannah Beier)
(REUTERS/Hannah Beier)

G. Terry Madonna, a senior fellow of political affairs at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, told Fox News Digital that Shapiro was triangulating his positions to appeal to conservatives without losing support from fellow Democrats. 

“They’ve looked at the political environment and know that crime and the economy are vulnerable issues for Democrats,” said Madonna. “But Shapiro is not letting Republicans own those issues, he’s co-opted the tough on crime message.” 

Although it is unclear if Shapiro’s tactics will succeed in neutralizing GOP attacks on crime and the economy, the strategy seems to be working as several high-profile Pennsylvania Republicans have endorsed him for the governorship.

“I’m a long-time conservative Republican,” said Jim Schultz, a former Trump White House associate counsel. “I’m excited about the GOP’s chances nationally and in the Senate race here in Pennsylvania, but I also think Josh [Shapiro] has laid out policies that give Republicans a lot to feel good about in supporting him.” 

Support for Shapiro from some segments of the Republican base is also due to his GOP opponent, state senator Doug Mastriano. 

A retired U.S. Army colonel and military historian, Mastriano has been labeled as far-right by many in the media. The impression is largely because of Mastriano’s efforts after the 2020 presidential election to decertify President Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania over claims of fraud. 

Mastriano even helped organize transportation for protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Although in Washington at the time of the incident, Mastriano never breached the Capitol himself. 

Shapiro says that Mastriano’s actions surrounding the 2020 election and January 6 make him unfit to be governor of Pennsylvania, let alone criticize anyone on the issue of crime. 

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“He went to the [U.S.] Capitol on January 6, participated in the riot, and understand why — to stop the votes and Pennsylvanians from being counted,” said Shapiro. “This guy loves to talk a good game about law and order, but he can’t follow the rules.” 

Mastriano dismisses such criticism, saying that Shapiro’s record as attorney general is the only thing voters have to consider when it comes to weighing which candidate will be better on combating crime. 

“We are the 12th highest in the nation when it comes to statewide homicides, eighth highest in overdose poisonings,” Mastriano told Fox News Digital. “He’s done nothing about these statistics, except they’ve gotten worse every year on his watch.” 





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