This new Josh Shapiro email speaks volumes about his future plans | Thursday Morning Coffee

Attorney General Josh Shapiro appears at a rally for victims of abuse by priests. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Any interview with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro follows a pretty predictable playbook: There’s a couple of questions about his plethora of lawsuits against the Trump administration; his ongoing efforts to implement the reforms included in last year’s bombshell grand jury report about sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses, and, inevitably, some question about his plans for the future.

The last one is largely pro forma. There isn’t anyone in Pennsylvania politics who expects that Shapiro, who is 45, and has energy and ambition to spare, isn’t going to run for something in 2022, when the terms of both Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will be up.

Shapirowho was elected in 2016, is also widely expected to run for a second term in 2020.

The smart money for the future seems to be on Shapiro making a bid for Wolf’s open seat. Unless Toomey does something catastrophically stupid between now and 2022, there’s every reason to expect he’ll run, and probably get re-elected to a third, six-year term (Unless, of course, current LG John Fetterman gets a case of happy feet, in which case, all bets are off.).

But if you ask Shapiro about his future plans, you’ll get an amiable hummana-hummana-hummana about how he loves his current job and has given absolutely nooooooo thought about anything else (there is a reason, of course, that the professional association for attorneys general is known as the National Association of Aspiring Governors).

Such was the case when we talked to Shapiro a couple of weeks back, where he did the same amiable deferral, telling us, “I actually love my job.”

But as is the case with the president that Shapiro has sued nearly two-dozen times now, paying attention to what the Montgomery County Democrat does is just as important as what he says.

Which brings us to the email that Shapiro’s re-election campaign blasted out to his supporters on Tuesday. The subject line “This affects us too,” immediately piqued our interest. Naturally, we opened it.

There, we found Shapiro railing against President Donald Trump’s proposed budget and the impact it could have on student loans. Clicking on a link in the email brought us to this thicket of verbiage:

“In his budget for the next fiscal year, Trump cuts more than $8.5 billion from the Department of Education, ends the student loan forgiveness program, and eliminates subsidized student loans, which could force students to pay $207 billion more on their loans.” the chatter reads.

“These cuts will make it harder for Americans to pursue opportunity and achieve prosperity. It’s critical we make it known that these cuts harm students who want an opportunity to achieve the American dream. Add your name to stand with Josh Shapiro and Americans across the country to oppose these cuts,” it concludes.

True, Shapiro’s office is pursuing litigation against one of the country’s biggest loan servicers. So there is a proximate cause for his interest in student loans. But, strictly speaking, the talk about Trump’s budget is outside the purview of that litigation.

There are one of two reasons that Shapiro is taking that tack. He’s either looking forward to running for re-election to a second, four-year term, or he has his eyes on a larger prize. Again, what he says is as important as what he does.

And this email suggests Shapiro is playing the long game.

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison
 catches up with the second former governor in a week to support a bailout for Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry.
A record-setting number of women are serving in the Pennsylvania state House. But they’re still a quarter of the chamber’s total numberSarah Anne Hughes reports.
Stephen Caruso has the results of a state House vote on bills reforming Pennsylvania’s civil statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.
Capital-Star Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender has a pair of stories. In one, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle has some strong words for Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller. In another, she looks at a House voice reinstating Obama-era Net Neutrality rules.
And we suggest some steps that Pennsylvania lawmakers can take to truly honor the memory of the Tree of Life Synagogue victims.

On the Opinion side of the house, state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, suggests that it’s our shared responsibility to fight human trafficking.

Elsewhere:
Tax bills for Philly homeowners are going up  — again — as the city releases new assessments, The Inquirer reports.
PennLive takes a look at a package of House bills aimed at cutting down on single-use plastics.
Former GOP 7th Congressional District candidate Marty Nothstein is suing USA Cycling for defamation, The Morning Call reports.
Philly has the equivalent of a mass shooting every three months, BillyPenn reports.

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Some state lawmakers say it’s time for Pa. to pay for its criminal justice mistakesThe Incline reports.
WITF-FM looks at the duel between the natural gas and nuclear industry as debate over a Senate bailout bill heated up.
PoliticsPA takes a look at the emerging air war in the Philly mayoral race.
Lancaster City Council took the unusual step of calling for the creation of a state public health advocate on Wednesday night, LancasterOnline reports.
State opioid prevention programs are branching out into suicide prevention as well, Stateline.org reports.
Roll Call explains how Medicare for All continues to shape the 2020 landscape.

What Goes On.
The House Transportation Committee huddles at 9 a.m. at the Pa. Turnpike Commission’s HQ in suburban Harrisburg, where it will discuss, we presume, how the toll highway agency is in financial freefall.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 road-trips it to Allentown for a 2:30 p.m. stop at Hiram Dodd Elementary School, where he’ll talk up how his RestorePA plan would aid in lead paint mitigation.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Rep. Chris Quinn
 holds a 6 p.m. reception in lovely Media, Pa. Admission runs $500 to $5,000, dependent, as ever, upon your ardor to bask in his reflected glow.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Neon Trees, it’s ‘Love and Affection.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
St. Louis got past Winnipeg 2-1 in Game One of their Central Conference playoff series on Wednesday night.

And now you’re up to date.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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