Pennsylvania Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro has broken the Keystone State’s campaign spending record while state Senator Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee, has spent less than one-tenth of his rival’s budget.
Shapiro has reported $44 million in expenditures, surpassing the former $42 million record established by former Governor Ed Rendell in the 2002 cycle, according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mastriano, however, has spent less than $3 million.
While Shapiro has $11 million in reserves, Mastriano has $2.6 million. A recent survey from The Daily Wire and Trafalgar Group found that 52.8% of voters in Pennsylvania support the former while 43.5% favor the latter.
Trafalgar Group founder and senior strategist Robert Cahaly told The Daily Wire that Mastriano’s presence at the United States Capitol on January 6 has induced voters in his own party to hesitate and caused establishment Republicans to tighten their purses. While the Democratic Governors Association has contributed $5.5 million to Shapiro, the Republican Governors Association has not provided any support to Mastriano.
Despite his advantage in the polls and among donors, Shapiro appears to be aware of voters’ enthusiasm surrounding education reform and school choice. The nominee added language to his campaign website last month in support of “adding choices for parents and educational opportunity for students and funding lifeline scholarships like those approved in other states and introduced in Pennsylvania.” The commonwealth’s lifeline scholarship legislation would reallocate funds from the bottom 15% of districts to help families pay for tuition elsewhere.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, a teachers union representing more than 187,000 staffers, has nevertheless endorsed Shapiro. On the other hand, Mastriano argues in his campaign platform that “parents have a fundamental right to know and control what their children are learning in school” and calls for “statewide curriculum transparency requirements.”
The Shapiro campaign has been able to run television advertisements every day since April, while Mastriano has noted that the lack of funding from the Republican Party has limited his ability to advertise. One commercial from Mastriano, however, discusses Shapiro’s endorsements from organizations that advance leftist gender ideology and the graphic sexualized content found in government schools. Roughly 74% of registered voters support school choice, according to a poll from RealClear Opinion Research, while search engine data analyzed by the Washington Examiner appears to show that education is a particularly salient issue for voters in Pennsylvania.
For the first time in decades, Pennsylvanians will not witness a gubernatorial debate since Shapiro has not accepted Mastriano’s requests for both candidates to pick their own moderators and field questions from both.
In the commonwealth’s Senate race, Democratic nominee John Fetterman and Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz are only scheduled to debate once. Fetterman, who has stuttered and lost his train of thought during multiple public appearances after suffering a stroke days before the Democratic primary, had committed to debate Oz “sometime in the middle to end of October” on a “major television station” in Pennsylvania. The two candidates are statistically tied to clinch the open Senate seat, leading both major parties to heavily subsidize the race.