May 10, 2022 - Politics

Primary election guide: Pennsylvania's governor race

Illustration of Pennsylvania State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: billnoll/Getty Images

All eyes are on Pennsylvania's high-stakes governor's race, which could ultimately decide the fate of abortion rights in the state.

State of play: The draft Supreme Court opinion signaling a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade was leaked just two weeks before the state's May 17 primary election.

  • Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who has stood in the way of the Republican-dominated legislature on several issues, is term-limited. His successor will ultimately determine the political dynamics on the state level.

Let's break down the candidates:


It's just Josh Shapiro.

  • Pennsylvania's attorney general since 2017 is not a novice in the political world. He won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2004 and was re-elected several times. Shapiro has also served as a Montgomery County commissioner.
  • His primary victory as the state's top cop was investigating child abuse by clergy within Pennsylvania's Catholic dioceses.


State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a U.S. Army veteran, is relatively new to the political world, securing his first elected seat in 2019.

  • He's considered one of the most conservative candidates in the race, known for opposing pandemic restrictions and promoting baseless claims of election fraud in 2020.

Former Rep. Lou Barletta has had a long political career, including roughly eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served on the Hazleton City Council before becoming the city's mayor, and he lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Bill McSwain, who served in the Marine Corps, is a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, appointed by Trump.

Melissa Hart, the only woman in the race, is returning to the world of politics after a 14-year break working as a lawyer.

Jake Corman is the highest-ranking leader in the state Senate, serving for more than 20 years. He briefly dropped out of the race in April but changed his mind after he says Trump called him to convince him otherwise.

Joe Gale has been a commissioner on the majority Democrat Montgomery County Board of Commissioners since 2016. His brother, Sean, is running for U.S Senate.

Charlie Gerow is a long-time conservative strategist who worked on Ronald Reagan's campaign.

Dave White is a former Delaware County Council member with ties to unions. He started his own small HVAC company and leans into his blue-collar roots.

Nche Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon from Monroe County, is a newcomer to politics. He immigrated from Cameroon when he was a teenager and says his experience sets him apart from his competitors.


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