HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — On Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, a new Pennsylvania governor will be sworn-in in Harrisburg.
After eight years of Tom Wolf, Josh Shapiro will become Pennsylvania’s 48th governor. But who is the man who is about to be Pennsylvania’s most powerful politician?
Shapiro’s energy can seem limitless when there’s a political stage or an open microphone.
At 49 years old, Shapiro will be Pennsylvania’s youngest elected governor since 46-year-old Dick Thornburgh.
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Shapiro may have a baby face, but he is not a baby in the world of politics.
Shapiro was the first freshman-elected student body president at the University of Rochester. While Shapiro was a staffer at the Capitol in Washington D.C. he graduated from Georgetown Law and was off to Harrisburg.
Shapiro won a seat in the Pennsylvania State House in 2004. Many say he showed courage in a press conference of one called for the caucus bid to step down amid the “bonusgate” scandal.
“We need leaders who possess the public’s trust. Bill DeWeese does not,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro also helped broker a back-room deal to make Philadelphia Republican Dennis O’Brien to speaker, making Shapiro deputy speaker.
In 2011, Shapiro returned home to Montgomery County where he was elected to the Montgomery County Commissioners while Democrats took control for the first time in the county’s history.
By 2016, Shapiro was running again, this time for attorney general. Shapiro defeated Republican Senator John Rafferty after receiving 3.4 million votes, the most in Pennsylvania history.
As attorney general, Shapiro’s report on the sexual abuse of children by priests and coverups by the Catholic Church made international news.
Shapiro also facilitated a settlement between Highmark and UPMC, two healthcare giants who had been in a dispute for years.
To add to his list of accomplishments as attorney general, Shapiro got $1 billion for Pennsylvania in a opioid settlement.
Shapiro won reelection in 2020, but was on the campaign trail again in 2021, this time for governor.
Shapiro, once again, got three million votes as he defeated Republican Doug Mastriano by 14 percentage points.
Now, Shapiro is in full governor mode, making appearances at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, choosing a bipartisan cabinet, and showing confidence that he can overcome Harrisburg’s partisan gridlock that has plagued previous administrations.
“I’ll be treating the leaders of both parties with respect, recognizing the important role they have in the process. They’ll treat my administration with respect and we’ll work together to tackle the big challenges,” said Shapiro.
The top Republican in the state house, Bryan Cutler, is ready for what Shapiro is calling a reset in a relationship.
“I think that Governor-elect Shapiro has a distinct advantage over any of his predecessors, having come from the legislature. So he certainly understands the process, he understands the amendments, and really what it takes to get a bill across the finish line,” Cutler said.
Detractors, and he certainly has them, criticize Shapiro’s political ambitions, say he’s not above back-room deals or backstabbing, and expect him to be running for president soon.
However, even Shapiro’s critics respect his devotion to his Jewish faith and his family. Shapiro met his wife of 25 years in the 9th grade at Hebrew academy. They have a daughter and three sons.
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For Pennsylvania, it’s a new first family, for Shapiro it’s a new job, one that he can’t wait to get started.
“I want to be able to walk in on day one with a team that’s ready to go, that’s prepared to get to to yes whether on a bill or an economic development project or on a community initiative and get our government working again,” Shapiro said.
Tune in to abc27 on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, for the latest on Shapiro’s inauguration.