The Lead

Joe Gale, a Trump supporter and Montgomery County commissioner, declares run for governor

By: - February 16, 2021 3:47 pm

Joe Gale | Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Commissioners

Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner who says he wants to roll back Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law, announced on Tuesday that he will seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.

The Montgomery County native is the first candidate from either major party to publicly say he’ll run for governor in next year’s midterm elections. The state constitution prevents Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, from seeking a third term.

Gale announced his campaign in a press release where he branded himself as an anti-establishment candidate and Trumpian stalwart who could lead Republican candidates to victory in the 2022 midterm elections.

“We cannot allow the other top-of-the-ticket race in 2022 to fall into the hands of the Republican Party establishment and the ring-kissing candidates they control, influence and endorse,” Gale said in a statement announcing his run.

He added, “In the final days of Donald Trump’s sabotaged presidency and the bogus impeachment that followed, we have witnessed the beginning of a concerted effort by entrenched politicians and party bosses to return the Republican Party to the failed policies and platforms of the Bush, McCain and Romney era. However, the Republican Party cannot go backward to move forward.”

If elected, Gale says his “common-sense conservative agenda” would start with changing state election law: he would eliminate Pennsylvania’s 50-day vote-by-mail window and require voters to present photo identification at polling places. 

He also said he would “[name] names” and support primary opponents of Republicans who oppose those goals.

Gale was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2015 at the age of 26. 

He briefly served alongside then-commissioner Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, until Shapiro was elected attorney general in 2016. Shapiro is widely expected to seek his party’s nomination for governor. 

Gale was an early supporter of former President Donald Trump, and says he was the first elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Last summer, Gale’s Democratic colleagues censured him and state legislators called for his impeachment after he called Black Lives Matter protesters a “radical left-wing hate group.” He was also the subject of a federal lawsuit after blocking his constituents on Twitter, WHYY-FM reported.

In his Tuesday op-ed, Gale said that his brother, Sean Gale, will be running for U.S. Senate with a similar platform and a like-minded mission to build on Trump’s legacy in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. 

“In both the gubernatorial race and U.S. Senate race, we are all that stands between the conservative Republican voters of Pennsylvania and the insidious GOP establishment swamp,” Gale said.

The brothers are the first GOP candidates to announce campaigns for statewide office next year, when a U.S. Senate seat and the Governor’s mansion will both be up for grabs. 

Political insiders have cited at least a dozen other GOP candidates who are rumored to be interested in statewide campaigns. 

They include former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain, current U.S. Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Dan Meuser, former U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, 2018 Lt. Gov. hopeful Jeff Bartos, state Sens. Doug Mastriano and Mike Regan, former House Speaker Mike Turzai and Trump Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite.

A handful of Democrats, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, have announced their 2022 intentions. Fetterman launched his Senate campaign earlier this month, and house Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, said Tuesday he intends to run for lieutenant governor. 

Capital-Star reporter Stephen Caruso contributed reporting to this story. 

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.