Shapiro talks opportunity for Pennsylvania and issues dire warnings about his opponent

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Pennsylvania voters are five days away from the most crucial election of their lives, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro told supporters at a rally Thursday in Harrisburg.

Shapiro spoke about his vision to create a stronger Commonwealth for Pennsylvania residents and their children. He recounted his “great fights” as attorney general jailing thousands of drug traffickers and holding corporations accountable that harmed the public.

But Shapiro also spoke in no uncertain terms about the grave threat to freedom and democracy that his opponent’s election would bring.

“I have another big fight in me and it’s coming in five days when we beat Doug Mastriano,” Shapiro said, calling the Republican gubernatorial candidate dangerous and extreme.

“He fundamentally believes that some Pennsylvanians don’t matter. You see, if you don’t think like him, if you don’t look like him, you don’t vote like him, if you don’t marry like him, you don’t worship like him, then you don’t count in the Pennsylvania of Doug Mastriano,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro delivered an energetic and impassioned speech to a crowd of a few hundred outside Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market. Members of organized labor groups, including the Teamsters and Carpenters Union, formed a lively backdrop behind the stage.

Shapiro’s appearance followed remarks from his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Nominee Austin Davis; Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams; City Councilman Dave Madsen, candidate for State Representative; and Councilman Shamaine Daniels, who is running for Congress against incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Scott Perry.

Davis, a state representative from Allegheny County, noted that he would be the first black lieutenant governor and the highest-ranking black elected official in Pennsylvania history.

Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis greets supporters at a rally in Harrisburg Thursday, 3/11/2022. (Capital-Star photo by Peter Hall)

He spoke of entering public service after going to a city council meeting over fears of a shooting in his neighborhood as a student.

“There are two things I noticed when I was at that meeting; one, no one was addressing the issue of gun violence, and no one serving in city government was like me,” Davis said.

“The decisions we make every day disproportionately affect black and brown communities across this entire Commonwealth and that’s who should be sitting at those tables, making those decisions for our communities,” Davis said.

The rally was Shapiro’s first appearance as a gubernatorial candidate in Dauphin County. And it was part of a statewide bus tour the last week before Election Day on Tuesday.

“When I think about this moment we find ourselves in, I see a great opportunity for our community. I also see a lot of work that we need to do to defend our fundamental freedoms and protect our democracy,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said his priority will be education, moving away from reliance on standardized testing, restoring vocational, technical and computer training in high schools and protecting student well-being and safety by providing a counselor in mental health for each school.

To keep communities safe, Shapiro said he would support hiring more police officers with a focus on recruiting them from the communities they serve.

And to build an economy that uplifts everyone, Shapiro said he would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, compete with other states for industry and jobs, and “connect the dots” between the universities that develop new technologies and the manpower needed to use them.

Shapiro said that while Mastriano’s promises to ban abortion, restrict LGBTQ rights and attack unions are threats to freedom, his record as a Holocaust denier makes him dangerous to democracy.

“I know where he was on January 6. He was there that day at the Capitol of the nation… It was not to hear a speech. It was not to protest peacefully. No, he was there that day to deny you your vote,” Shapiro said.

If Mastriano is elected governor, he will use his power to control the election through his appointee as secretary of state, review election logs, make corrections and decertify voting machines, Shapiro said.

“So he can choose the winner. This is not how our democracy works. That’s not how we ride here in this Commonwealth or in this country,” Shapiro said.

Despite the nation’s frustration with politics and a sense that its problems cannot be solved, Shapiro said he stood before the crowd as “a person full of optimism.”

“The reason I’m optimistic is that in every chapter of our American history it was not written by people with titles next to their names, but by ordinary Americans who see a challenge ahead of them and decide to speak, decide to stand up, decide to seek a fairer society.

“They look their kids in the eye and say, we’re going to leave this place better for you than the way we found it,” Shapiro said.

He urged supporters to make a plan for voting and reach out to others to ensure they understand the importance of voting.

“I came here tonight to ask for your vote. But I also came here tonight to ask for your voice. Because in your voice there is real power,” Shapiro said.

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