Pennsylvania state Treasurer Stacy Garrity (Capital-Star photo)
With the party’s endorsement meeting just over six weeks away, three Democrats from different corners of the commonwealth are looking to unseat Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a Republican.
At least two of the candidates have criticized Garrity’s connections to former President Donald Trump. But Garrity’s campaign says none of the Democrats running have so far demonstrated they understand what the role entails.
“They will try to make this election about anything but the office of treasurer of Pennsylvania because every one of them knows they can’t compete on the facts,” Dennis Roddy, a spokesperson for Garrity’s campaign, told the Capital-Star. “And none of them can match the business experience, life experience, and on-the-job experience of Treasurer Stacy Garrity.”
Garrity appears to have a clear path to the Republican Party nomination for state treasurer and was endorsed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party at its most recent state committee meeting.
Her Democratic challengers include state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, former Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz, and former small business owner Erin McClelland.
Bizzarro, who is serving his sixth term representing the 3rd House District in Erie, formally entered the race in late September. He said at the time that the election was about more than state treasurer. “It’s a battle to stop the spread of extremism here in Pennsylvania,” Bizzarro said in his campaign announcement.
Bizzarro linked Garrity to former President Donald Trump, saying her views align with his on the 2020 election. He noted Garrity spoke at a rally on Jan. 5, 2021 in Harrisburg telling a crowd on the Capitol steps to “question the integrity” of the election. And, Bizzarro said, Garrity celebrated the 2022 repeal of Roe v. Wade on her Facebook page.
Bizzarro said if elected treasurer, he would strengthen programs to protect seniors, help families save for college and provide low-interest loans for farms, nonprofits and local governments.
Bizzarro’s campaign declined to comment about the other candidates in the race, but pointed to the list of elected officials from across the commonwealth supporting his campaign, including House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia), U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-8th District), Dwight Evans (D-3rd District), among others.
McClelland has made several unsuccessful runs for public office in the past decade, including bids for Congress in 2014 and 2016, and a short-lived campaign for Allegheny County Executive this year.
McClelland has a background in behavioral health and worked for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. She believes her background as a small business owner best qualifies her to be Treasurer.
“The fact that I have made a payroll and I can tell you that nothing that tests your mettle like getting to the 15th of the month and worrying about paying people so they can pay their bills,” she said in an interview with the Capital-Star.
McClelland said preventing the implementation of Keystone Saves, a retirement savings program Garrity has touted, would be the first issue she’d tackle if elected. She called the proposed plan a “dangerous financial product” highly susceptible to fraud.
“I also think that she has highly politicized the office,” McClelland said of Garrity. “We need an honest broker that looks at our public sector pensions and our public sector money management in a way that is sensible and pragmatic. And I don’t think that using those coffers and weaponizing them to declare an ideological political war on Joe Biden or any other politician is appropriate.”
Butkovitz formally announced his candidacy for the statewide row office on Oct. 25.
“I have extensive experience in these financial issues having served as the controller in Philadelphia for 12 years,” Butkovitz said in an interview with the Capital-Star. “And I think that we can have a lot of impact on policy. But it’s no job for a beginner.”
Butkovitz specifically pointed to his office’s work with pensions, operation audits, and more as proof his experience can translate to the Treasurer’s office. He believes that there are currently a number of laws that aren’t adapted to changing conditions in the treasurer’s office, including Medicare & Medicaid policies and allowing retirees to work in Pennsylvania.
Butkovitz represented Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House from 1991 to 2005, then served as Philadelphia City Controller from 2005 to 2017. He lost the Democratic Party primary in 2017 to Rebecca Rhynhart, who went on to win the citywide office.
His most recent run for public office was in 2019, when he attempted to unseat incumbent Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. Butkovitz finished third in the Democratic Party primary for Mayor, behind Kenney and state Sen. Anthony Williams.
Like Bizzarro, Butkovitz accused Garrity of being a “Trumpster” and an “election denier,” and said she would alter state pension fund investments based on climate denialism.
He said that he has support from a number of officials across the state —former U.S. Rep Bob Brady, the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee Chair, is his campaign chairperson— and feels confident in the support within the party.
“We think that we’re in good shape to pursue the state committee endorsement,” Butkovitz said.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is scheduled to hold its endorsement meeting on Dec. 16.
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