HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania's race for governor in 2022 is starting to take shape.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Oct. 13. Shapiro is the only Democratic candidate so far.
Meanwhile, at least nine Republicans have officially announced their intent to replace Governor Tom Wolf, with another six potentially still to come.
Dr. Dan Mallinson, an assistant professor of public policy and administration at the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, says having this level of participation is not common in an open election.
"Usually when you have a wide open election, you have a lot of candidates lining up on both sides to get into that slot," Mallinson said.
It's tremendously rare for one party to only be represented by a single candidate in a major race like governor for an open election. The last time it happened in Pennsylvania was 2002, when then-Attorney General Mike Fisher was the Republicans' sole candidate following eight years of Governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker.
The only other time it's happened in the last 50 years was 1970, when Lieutenant Governor Ray Broderick ran unopposed for the Republican nomination.
Both those instances resulted in Republican losses in the November general election.
More recently, Mallinson says the 2022 race is shaping up similar to the 2016 presidential election. Then, Democrats coming off eight years in power with President Barack Obama, put their weight behind Hillary Clinton. Clinton, however, lost to Donald Trump in Nov. 2016, who came out of a 17-person Republican primary field.
"When you only have one candidate, you don't get a sense of where the party is at," Mallinson said. "That's meaningful right now when you consider how strong the progressive wing of the [Democratic] party has become."
If Shapiro doesn't do enough to excite voters to turn out to support him, it could cost him and Democrats the election.
For Republicans though, a primary with over a dozen candidates could lead to a crapshoot, where quantity might dilute more qualified candidates.
Nine Republicans have announced their candidacy so far:
- Former Congressman Lou Barletta
- Guy Ciarrocchi, CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and former Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley
- Joe Gale, Montgomery County Commissioner since 2016
- Charlie Gerow, conservative strategist
- Bill McSwain, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pa.
- Jason Monn, former mayor of Corry, Pa.
- Jason Richey, Pittsburgh-based attorney
- John Ventre, retired UPS security executive
- Nche Zama, cardiothoracic surgeon
There are also at least six potential candidates who have yet to announce. Two, State Senators Scott Martin and Dan Laughlin, have announced exploratory committees, while four others Sens. Jake Corman and Doug Mastriano, Congressman Mike Kelly, and former State House Speaker Mike Turzai, have publicly expressed interest.