Nov 1, 2022 - Politics

Philly Voter Guide: Meet the candidates for Pennsylvania governor

Illustration of the Pennsylvania state capitol over a divided red and blue background featuring elements of ballots.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Bill Noll/Getty Images

Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race will bring a new occupant to the governor's mansion and potentially big changes to state government.

Why it matters: The open race for governor will determine the future of abortion access, state funding for public education, and regulations around elections and businesses in the sharply divided state.

  • Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited, has used his veto to strike down several GOP-led efforts to further restrict abortion and voting access.
  • Pennsylvania Republicans will likely maintain their years-long control of both the state Senate and House of Representatives.

The big picture: Philly could play an outsized role in determining the next governor.

  • The city is a Democratic stronghold with more than 800,000 registered Democrats β€” the most of any Pennsylvania county.
  • Voter turnout here typically determines whether Democrats claim victory in statewide elections.

The intrigue: The typical drop in Philly's voter turnout during off-year elections may be turning a corner.

  • In 2018, when the governor was on the ballot, Philly's turnout reached 53% β€” a figure not seen in decades.
  • Yes, but: The turnout for the primary this year was a mere 23.6%. In the 2014 general election for governor, it was 37.4%.

The bottom line: Go vote by Nov. 8.

πŸ‘‹ Meet the candidates
Josh Shaprio
Josh Shapiro. Photo courtesy of the Shapiro campaign

Democrat: Josh Shapiro, 49, won re-election as the state attorney general last year. He lives in Abington.

Doug Mastriano
Doug Mastriano. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

Republican: Doug Mastriano, a retired Army colonel, serves as state senator for District 33. He's 58 and lives in Greene Township.

Matt Hackenburg
Matt Hackenburg. Photo courtesy of the Hackenburg campaign

Libertarian: Matt Hackenburg, 37, is a computer engineer living in Bangor.

Christina DiGiulio
Christina DiGiulio. Photo courtesy of the DiGiulio campaign

Green: Christina DiGiulio, 44, founded a regional oil and gas watchdog group and a renewable energy coalition. She lives in Downingtown.

Joe Soloski
Joe Soloski. Photo courtesy of the Soloski campaign

Keystone: Joe Soloski is a certified public accountant. He's 65 and lives in Port Matilda.

πŸ€” Let the Q&A begin...

Editor's note: All candidates were invited to complete the following Q&A. Answers have been lightly edited for style and length. Candidates are in the order they appear on the ballot.

  • Mastriano did not return Axios' multiple requests to participate. We've indicated this with the β›” emoji. When possible, we've linked to answers based on Mastriano's campaign and Senate websites, our reporting, and his responses to a Q&A with the Erie Times-News.
  • Mastriano has been known to not respond to most media inquiries during this election cycle.

Do you support raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage from $7.25, yes (βœ… ) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: βœ…

Mastriano: β›” (but appears it would be ❌)

Hackenburg: ❌

DiGiulio: βœ…

Soloski: ❌

If yes, what would you propose setting the minimum wage to? Answer in one sentence or less.

Shapiro: I'll continue to stand up for our workers and ensure that every Pennsylvania worker is paid a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

DiGiulio: $15-$25 with consideration of inflation.

Pennsylvania permits abortions up to about 24 weeks of pregnancy. Should new restrictions be placed on abortion access in the state, yes (βœ…) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: ❌

Mastriano: β›” (but appears it would be βœ…)

Hackenburg: ❌

DiGiulio: ❌

Soloski: ❌

Do you agree with and support the 2020 election results, yes (βœ…) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: βœ…

Mastriano: β›” (but he's sought to undermine the 2020 election results.)

Hackenburg: βœ…

DiGiulio: βœ…

Soloski: βœ…

What is one big idea to address inflation and rising prices in the state? Sum it up in one sentence.

Shapiro: I want to put money directly into Pennsylvanians' pockets, which is why I have a plan to eliminate the state cellphone tax, expand the Property Tax Rent Rebate to cover hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians, and give Pennsylvania drivers a $250 gas tax refund.

Mastriano: β›” (but he addresses the topic here.)

Hackenburg: Allowing competing currencies, a sort of "free market in money," and making them easy to use for the general public is the key to relieving us of our failing dollar.

DiGiulio: Tax corporations appropriately.

Soloski: Slash government spending and get the government out of our lives as much as possible.

Do you support establishing new gun restrictions in Pennsylvania, yes (βœ…) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: βœ…

Mastriano: β›” (but appears it would be ❌)

Hackenburg: ❌

DiGiulio: βœ…

Soloski: ❌

If yes, what's one measure you would propose or support? Answer in one sentence or less.

Shapiro: I support enacting universal background checks, passing red flag laws, closing the ghost gun loophole, and investing in police and public safety.

DiGiulio: Domestic violence screening and not allowing military grade weapons in the hands of those who aren't trained in the use of them or the intention of their design.

Sum up your solution to reducing crime and gun violence in the state, in three sentences or less.

Shapiro: I'll invest more resources in public safety; help hire more than 2,000 more police officers across the Commonwealth; work with federal, state, and local officials to make our communities safer; and address the root causes of crime like poverty and trauma.

Mastriano: β›” (but he addresses the topic here.)

Hackenburg: The best way we can reduce crime and gun violence in Pennsylvania is to embrace the Second Amendment, decriminalize victimless crimes, and improve people's economic standard of living.

DiGiulio: Establish equitable systems which provide housing, health care, and justice; provide subsidies to grassroots organizations or local community members to build a sustainable structure, which focuses on equity and localism; and defund the oppressive nature of police and incarceration.

Soloski: The best defense against a bad guy with a gun is to be a good guy with a gun, so I support gun training and safety as well as making Pennsylvania a "constitutional carry state."

Do you support decriminalizing marijuana in the state, yes (βœ…) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: βœ…

Mastriano: β›”

Hackenburg: βœ…

DiGiulio: βœ…

Soloski: βœ…

Pennsylvania's cash bail system has been criticized for years. Do you want to reform it (πŸ› οΈ) or keep the existing system (πŸ‘Œ) in place?

Shapiro: πŸ› οΈ

Mastriano: β›” (but he addresses the topic here.)

Hackenburg: πŸ› οΈ

DiGiulio: πŸ› οΈ

Soloski: πŸ› οΈ

What is one big idea to improve public education in the state? Sum it up in one sentence.

Shapiro: I will ensure that our schools are fully funded so that we can guarantee that our buildings are safe, have at least one mental health counselor in every single school, and provide all our students with vocational, technical, and computer training.

Mastriano: β›” (but he addresses the topic here.)

Hackenburg: Adopt school choice so parents can decide how and where their kids should be educated.

DiGiulio: Stop taxing based upon a child's ZIP code and reform the education system based upon equity.

Soloski: Let's do away with our property tax system and fund education choices with county-level or regional sales taxes.

Would you support allowing transgender athletes to compete in school sports that align with their gender identity, yes (βœ…) or no (❌)?

Shapiro: ❌

Mastriano: β›” (but appears it would be ❌)

Hackenburg: ❌

DiGiulio: βœ…

Soloski: ❌

Sum up how you would address climate change, in one sentence.

Shapiro: I would invest in clean energy and clean transportation, adopting the 2020 Grand Jury Report recommendations to minimize health hazards arising from fracking, plugging orphaned oil and gas wells, and addressing lead contamination in order to keep protecting Pennsylvania’s environment.

Mastriano: β›” (but appears he would not address it.)

Hackenburg: We need to classify pollution as a trespass and empower the free market to take on those who are polluting our state.

DiGiulio: Identify the perpetrators, stop subsidizing them, hold them accountable and invest in the Green New Deal.

Soloski: I would expand the construction of new nuclear power facilities to safely provide the current and future electricity needs of Pennsylvania.

Name 1 big thing you will accomplish in your first year, in 15 words or less.

Shapiro: Improve our education system, build a strong economy, cut taxes, and make communities safer.

Mastriano: ⛔️

Hackenburg: Pass "Defend the Guard" legislation and prevent U.S. involvement in Ukraine and Taiwan.

DiGiulio: Showing the people of Pennsylvania what a public servant really is.

Soloski: Slash the governor's salary from over $215,000 annually to under $70,000.

Summarize the state of Pennsylvania in five words or less.

Shapiro: Freedom and opportunity.

Mastriano: ⛔️

Hackenburg: The birthplace of liberty.

DiGiulio: Stuck in a colonizer's mentality.

Soloski: Fantastic state, too much government.

πŸŽ‰ What's 1 fun thing voters don't know about you?

Shapiro: I love Philly sports β€” especially the Sixers β€” and shooting hoops in the driveway with my kids.

Mastriano: ⛔️

Hackenburg: I am 6 foot 5 inches tall.

DiGiulio: I don't take myself so seriously, yet I am serious.

Soloski: I enjoy participating in community theater.

πŸ—³ Go deeper: Read our guide on voting in Philly

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