Josh Shapiro Is Pennsylvania’s New Attorney General

Here's what he wants to do with the scandal-plagued AG's Office.

Josh Shapiro | Photo by Matt Rourke

Josh Shapiro | Photo by Matt Rourke

The race for Pennsylvania attorney general was relatively quiet, as these things go.

The chief task for both candidates — Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican state Sen. John Rafferty — was to establish themselves as calm, rational figures who could chart an uneventful path for the A.G.’s Office without ever veering off into the manic theatrics that came to define the office under the last person elected attorney general: Kathleen Kane.

They passed that test easily — did you see this reasonable debate? — and the race was light on the relentless mudslinging that defined some other races (looking at you, Katie McGinty and Pat Toomey). In the end, Shapiro, the Montgomery County Commissioner who seems to legitimately deserve the “rising star” tag that people love to attach to young politicians, topped Rafferty 53 percent to 47 percent to become the state’s next attorney general. Rafferty called Shapiro to concede the race just before 11:40 p.m.

Rafferty, 63, had previously worked in the Attorney General’s Office, but his brief experience as a prosecutor didn’t woo as many as voters as Shapiro’s pledge to have the office tackle quality-of-life issues, like the ongoing heroin epidemic and drinking water that’s been tainted by fracking activities. (Shapiro also seriously outpaced Rafferty in fundraising, hauling in close to $5 million to Rafferty’s $1.3 million, according to Billy Penn.)

Earlier today, Shapiro, 43, reflected on his campaign after he squeezed into the standing room-only confines of Relish in West Oak Lane. “When I began this campaign, talking about protecting our seniors from scams, going after price-gouging pharmaceutical companies, and criminal justice reform, a lot of people questioned that and whether or not I knew what I was talking about,” he said. “But I think what we’ve done over the course of this campaign is to define the office in the way it was truly intended to be: the people’s attorney general, the public protector. Hopefully I’ll have a mandate to do that work after tonight.”

Shapiro has a solid track record: He was elected state representative — at age 30 — in 2004, then appointed a deputy speaker of the House two years later, having established himself as a moderate voice who could work with Republicans. He ran for the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2010, and won praise for helping to put the county on better financial footing.

Rafferty suggested Shapiro was looking to use the A.G.’s Office as a “stepping stone” to run for higher office, a charge that tried to marry Shapiro’s obvious ambition with recent history — Tom Corbett’s stint as attorney general laid the groundwork for his successful run for governor in 2010, and plenty of political observers once predicted Kane would one day run for senator or governor — or even president! (Annnnd now she’s serving 10 to 23 months for a conviction on perjury and conspiracy charges. Pennsylvania!) Shapiro has pledged to serve his full term if he’s elected.

Both men vowed to restore sanity and integrity to the A.G.’s Office in the wake of the Porngate saga that led to a raft of dismissals and the resignations of two state Supreme Court justices, and the leak of grand jury material that led to Kane’s indictment and eventual resignation. Earlier this year, Shapiro told Philly Mag he’d make all of the office’s employees sign an ethics code, appoint a chief diversity officer, establish a Casey Commission to monitor the agency’s inner workings, and release any remaining Porngate emails. Rafferty, meanwhile, talked more about trying to boost the office’s morale.

Shapiro has also talked about expanding the office’s Gun Violence Task Force, expanding background checks to cover the sale of long guns in the state, and pushing for reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns. Rafferty, meanwhile, had the support of the NRA, which gave him an A- rating, citing his “opposition to gun control,” according to

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