Fetterman, Shapiro are teaming up in 2022. Will it help, hurt? | Tuesday Morning Coffee

The two each offer the other advantages in parts of the state where they need it, observers told the Capital-Star

June 21, 2022 7:12 am
U.S. Sen John Fetterman, D-Pa., (L) and Gov. Josh Shapiro (Campaign file photos).

U.S. Sen John Fetterman, D-Pa., (L) and Gov. Josh Shapiro (Campaign file photos).

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Let the ‘Odd Couple‘ jokes begin.

With control of the Governor’s Mansion and the U.S. Capitol on the line, Monday’s news that two of Pennsylvania’s Democratic powerhouses had joined forces didn’t elicit much surprise from veteran political observers who say it’s a smart use of both clout and resources.

“Money, capacity, and coordination — terribly important,” veteran Democratic consultant Dan Fee, of Philadelphia, told the Capital-Star when he was asked about the political partnership between Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro and the party’s U.S. Senate standard-bearer, John Fetterman.

As the Associated Press’ Marc Levy reports, the carefully calibrated Shapiro and the gruff Fetterman are two prongs of a coordinated campaign with backing from such big-money groups as the Democratic National CommitteeDemocratic Governors Association and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

And as unlikely a pairing as the two men are — and they most assuredly are — the high-stakes nature of the race justifies it, one observer said.

“Critical times make unlikely allies and the future of democracy being in jeopardy, both in Pennsylvania, and in Washington DC, calls for an unconventional approach,” Philadelphia-based consultant Mustafa Rashed told the Capital-Star.

“What’s intriguing is that Shapiro and Fetterman have both demonstrated very differently that they are the type of Democrats that can win statewide in Pennsylvania,” Rashed continued. “And that their contrasting styles could play well to expanding the tent of appeal to potential voters this November.”

Such efforts aren’t new — this kind of coordination happens all the time in politics. This time however, the 2022 push is the “largest and earliest midterm coordinated campaign in Pennsylvania history,” state Democrats told the AP.

It also likely will result in bucketloads of campaign cash finding their way to Pennsylvania in the nationally watched contests. And, as has been well-documented, neither Fetterman nor Shapiro are exactly slouches in that department already.

“As you know, the current political environment favors the [Republicans]. They are more enthusiastic about voting, lead in voter identification and the congressional ballot question, plus inflation, the supply chain and more,” Millersville University political sage G. Terry Madonna said. “The [Democrats] obviously face infamous Mid-Term Curse.

“Democratic candidates have to find a way to overcome all of that. Money is an absolute necessity,” Madonna said.

Campaign aides told the AP that they expect Shapiro and Fettermanwho’s recovering from a stroke he suffered shortly before last month’s Democratic primary, will make joint appearances at rallies and other events, such as regional campaign office openings. They also will raise money together, and work to elevate the chances of down-ballot candidates, according to the AP.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks with attendees on the Capitol steps of a rally for gun rights on September 29, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

But apart from the obvious cash benefit, the partnership also will serve to motivate the Democratic base, observers told the Capital-Star on Monday.

Democratic voters see Shapiro, now Pennsylvania’s elected attorney general, as a bulwark against Republican-spearheaded attacks on voting and reproductive rights, as well as assaults on the rights of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, an election-denier embraced by Christian nationalists, already has promised to rollback reproductive freedoms and has announced he wants to dramatically overhaul the state’s election law.

The same holds true in the fight for the U.S. Senate, a race in which Pennsylvania could well determine the balance of power in the upper chamber. Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, faces TV physician Mehmet Oz, who, like Mastriano, has the backing of former President Donald Trump.

“I think [Fetterman and Shapiro’s] hope is to build some synergy from their respective strengths,” Muhlenberg College political analyst Chris Borick told the Capital-Star.

Shapiro offers Fetterman a voice in the Philly [suburbs] that may help calm some concerns about him being too far-left for more moderate voters in that key region. Fetterman offers Shapiro some energy in a year where Democrats are struggling to generate excitement,” Borick said.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz ( photo)

But, such an approach isn’t without its drawbacks. Both Fetterman and Shapiro are close allies of outgoing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolfwho’s seen his approval ratings decline since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago.

Republicans have tried to paint Shapiro, who shares Wolf’s disdain for GOP attacks on abortion rights, as a third-term for the York County Democrat. And as Wolf’s loyal second-in-command, it will be tough for Fetterman to disentangle himself — even if he chose to do so — from his boss’ legacy and policies.

“Polarization and partisanship are extraordinarily high. Given that running together gives them the advantage of mobilizing the Democratic base,” Madonna said. “They need a huge turnout in Philly and the suburbs. The disadvantage is if one develops a serious problem there could be some carry over to the other candidate.”

But “campaigning together does not have to mean they give up their individual qualities, issue positions, other unique qualities they possess,” he added.

And that’s something that Shapiro, a veteran of Democratic campaigns, understands instinctively, Fee offered.

“He [Shapiro] understands some of this stuff in a granular way,” Fee said.

(c) R. Gino Santa Maria –

Our Stuff
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee voted 6-5 on Monday to send legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Farry, R-Bucks, reforming the state’s existing fireworks law to the full chamber for consideration. Every Republican, except Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, voted in favor of the bill. Staff Reporter Marley Parish has the story.

Heading into the November election campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro had $13.4 million on hand while his Republican opponent, Doug Mastriano, had just under $400,000, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Department of StateSenior Reporter Peter Hall has the details.

In July 2020, the District of Columbia became the third place in the nation to grant the right to vote to people who are incarcerated. Capital-Star Democracy Reporter Kira Lerner delves into why this is such a rarity.

A conservative group is seeking to force New Jersey’s secretary of state to release information about how her office maintains its voter rolls, our sibling site, the New Jersey Monitor, reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Tax cuts cause inflation, too. We need to resist quick fixes, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz writes. And with lawmakers and the Wolf administration headed into the budgetary home stretch, a coalition of groups representing people who work with the disabled are calling on negotiators to raise wages and stabilize funding for critical programs.

Abortion rights advocates. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images).
Abortion rights advocates. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images).

As many as 8,500 abortion patients could seek services in Pennsylvania if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the Inquirer reports.

State officials have issued a Code Orange air quality alert for the Pittsburgh region on Tuesday, the Tribune-Review reports.

A statewide police hiring database intended to flag troubled officers is riddled with loopholes, Spotlight PA reports (via PennLive).

USA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau lays out the budget landscape ahead of what’s expected to be a final sprint this week.

Pennsylvania has ‘rolling outages’ of diesel fuel, the Morning Call reports.

In Luzerne County, three local internet service providers are among the 20 companies that have agreed to provide free service to low-income residents who qualify for it, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission is considering its first hike to fishing and boating license fees in years, WLVR-FM reports (via WITF-FM).

PoliticsPA runs the voter registration numbers in Pennsylvania’s congressional districts.

States are dealing with a shortage of public defenders — and that’s a problem for reports.

Politico previews today’s Jan. 6 committee action, which is expected to focus on Trump’s state-level efforts to topple the 2020 election.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The House comes in at 11 a.m.; the Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m.
10 a.m., Main Rotunda: ’30 Classrooms in 30 Days’ event
10:30 a.m., Capitol Steps: ‘Secure our Schools’ rally
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: House Republicans on Crime
1 p.m., Main Rotunda: Rally for Victoria’s Law

9 a.m., 60 East Wing: House/Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness committees
9 a.m., 515 Irvis: House Judiciary Committee
9 a.m., 140 Main Capitol: House Republican Policy Committee
9 a.m., 205 Ryan: House State Government Committee
10 a.m., 461 Main Capitol: Senate Transportation Committee
10 a.m., 8E-A East Wing: Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness committee (again).
10 a.m., B31 Main Capitol: House Gaming Oversight Committee
10:30 a.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Health & Human Services Committee
12 p.m., 8E-A East Wing: Senate Education Committee
Call. of the Chair: House Appropriations Committee
Call of the Chair: House Human Services Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Bud Cook
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Jordan Harris 
5:30 p.m: Reception for Rep. Darisha Parker
6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Donna Oberlander
6 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
8 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Camera Bartolotta
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an absolutely eye-watering $30,000 today.

As of this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation
Last week, we brought you some new music from Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton. Well, here’s a new track from Hilton’s musical partner in the band, Rob Garza. It’s the very sunshine-y ‘Summer Is Ours.’ And if you’re listening to this one on your porch with a beverage in your hand later, you’re definitely doing it right.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Tampa Bay Lightning got one back in their Stanley Cup final series against the Colorado Avalanchebeating the Avs 6-2 on Monday night. Colorado still has a 2-1 series lead.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.