Joshua David Shapiro (born June 20, 1973)[1] is an American politician and attorney who has served as the Pennsylvania Attorney General since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the nominee in the 2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.[2]

Raised in Montgomery County, Shapiro studied political science at the University of Rochester and earned his law degree from Georgetown University. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2004, representing the 153rd district, where he served from 2005 to 2012. Shapiro won election to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011, marking the first time Republicans lost control of Montgomery County. Serving on the board from 2011 to 2017, he held the position of chairman and was also appointed chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency by Governor Tom Wolf.

Shapiro ran for Pennsylvania attorney general in 2016, defeating Republican John Rafferty Jr., and was re-elected in 2020. In 2021, he announced his candidacy for governor and ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Shapiro will face Republican Doug Mastriano in the general election.

Early life and education

Shapiro was born on June 20, 1973, in Kansas City, Missouri, to a father serving in the Navy, and was raised in Dresher, a town in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.[3] At a young age, Shapiro started a worldwide letter-writing program, known as Children for Avi, on behalf of Russian Jewish refuseniks.[4][5][6] He attended high school at Akiba Hebrew Academy, now known as Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, in Merion Station, Pennsylvania.[7] He attended the University of Rochester, where he majored in political science and became the first freshman to win election as the student body president of the University of Rochester in 1992.[8] He graduated magna cum laude in 1995.[9] While working on Capitol Hill during the day, he also enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center as an evening student and earned a Juris Doctor in 2002.[10]

Early career

Capitol Hill

After graduating from college, Shapiro moved to Washington, D.C. He started as legislative assistant to Senator Carl Levin, then served as a senior adviser to Congressman Peter Deutsch and Senator Robert Torricelli.[11] From 1999 to 2003, he worked as chief of staff to Congressman Joe Hoeffel.[12]

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

In 2004, Shapiro ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 153rd district.[11] He won election by a margin of ten points over the Republican nominee, former Congressman Jon D. Fox.[13] He won re-election in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

Following the 2006 elections, Democrats controlled the Pennsylvania State House with a one-seat advantage over Republicans, but the party was unable to unite behind a candidate for Speaker of the House. Shapiro helped to broker a deal that resulted in the election of moderate Republican Dennis O’Brien as Speaker of the House. O’Brien subsequently named Shapiro as deputy speaker of the house.[14]

While a State Representative, Shapiro was one of the first public backers of then-Senator Barack Obama for President in 2008. This was in contrast with much of the Pennsylvania political establishment, which supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.[15]

Montgomery County commissioner

Shapiro at a tree planting event in 2014

Shapiro won election to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011; the election marked the first time in history that the Republican Party lost control of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.[16] Shapiro became chairman of the board of commissioners, initially serving alongside Democrat Leslie Richards and Republican Bruce Castor.[8]

In 2016, Shapiro voted in favor of an 11% tax increase, which was an average increase of $66 in property taxes.[17] During his tenure, the board of commissioners implemented zero-based budgeting and shifted county pension investments from hedge funds to index funds.[16] Democrats retained a majority on the board of commissioners in the 2015 election, as Shapiro and his running mate, Val Arkoosh, both won election.[18]

In April 2015, Governor Tom Wolf named Shapiro Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.[19]

Pennsylvania attorney general

Shapiro at Gov. Tom Wolf‘s inauguration in 2019

Shapiro announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania attorney general in January 2016.[20] While Shapiro had practiced with Philadelphia’s Stradley Ronon firm, and had served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, he had never served as a prosecutor.[21] Shapiro campaigned on his promise to restore the office’s integrity following the resignation of Kathleen Kane and he also promised to work to combat the opioid epidemic[14] and gun violence. His campaign was supported by President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and businessman and former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, who was among the largest donors to Shapiro’s campaign.[22] He won the Democratic primary for attorney general in April 2016, defeating Stephen Zappala and John Morganelli with 47% of the vote.[23] In November 2016, Shapiro narrowly won election as attorney general, defeating Republican state Senator John Rafferty Jr. with 51.3% of the vote.[24]

He was re-elected in 2020, defeating Republican Heather Heidelbaugh.[25]


In 2017, Shapiro announced the roundup of a “Million Dollar Heroin Ring” under “Operation Outfoxed” in Luzerne County.[26] All of the charges in Operation Outfoxed were dismissed after allegations that Shapiro had mishandled the sealing of wiretapped recordings.[27]

Shapiro joined with several other State Attorneys’ General in opposing President Donald Trump‘s travel ban,[28] and he also filed a lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump and the Roman Catholic organization Little Sisters of the Poor to block the implementation of a rule that would have made it easier for employers to deny health insurance coverage of contraceptives.[29] He also joined a lawsuit against ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit educational institute, that resulted in a $168 million settlement (with about $5 million of that settlement going to Pennsylvania students).[30] In 2018, he reached an agreement with federal officials to prevent the distribution of blueprints for 3D printed firearms.[31] In 2019, he came out in support of the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults, joining Governor Tom Wolf and other leading Pennsylvania Democrats.[32]

Shapiro with Senator Bob Casey Jr. in 2021

Before Shapiro took office in 2016, the Pennsylvania Attorney’s General office launched an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church. Shapiro chose to move forward with the investigation, and, in August 2018, he released the results of an extensive grand jury report. The report alleged the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children at the hands of over 300 priests.[10] His report prompted similar investigations in other states into the Catholic Church, such as an inquiry launched by then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.[33]

Shapiro in 2021

In August 2018, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner referred the case of the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Jeffrey Dennis by a Philadelphia police officer to Shapiro, due to Krasner having served as Dennis’s criminal defense attorney prior. Dennis was in his car when undercover officers in unmarked vehicles “box[ed] in” Dennis, three officers were injured after Dennis tried to evade them.[34][35] In December, Shapiro announced no charges would be filed against the officer involved, citing “violations of police procedure do not always rise to the level of criminal charges”.[35][36] Dennis’s family subsequently filed a lawsuit against the officer and city of Philadelphia for the incident.[37]

Shapiro in 2019 led efforts to ensure that insurance holders of Highmark, a healthcare company, can receive treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.[38]

In December 2019, Shapiro charged State Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell with perjury and theft of funds from her supposedly nonprofit charity on such things as vacations and clothing.[39]

Shapiro was one of 20 electors selected by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to vote in the Electoral College for Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris in 2020 United States presidential election.[40]

In July 2021, Shapiro charged State Representative Margo L. Davidson with theft by deception, solicitation to hinder apprehension, and Election Code violations after stealing from the Commonwealth by filing fraudulent overnight per diem requests and various other expenses through the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Comptroller’s Office as well as hindering a state prosecution.[41]

In August 2021, Shapiro settled the largest prevailing wage criminal case in US history. Under the plea, Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., paid nearly $21 million to 1,267 Pennsylvania workers.[42]

2022 gubernatorial campaign

Shapiro had long been expected to run for governor of Pennsylvania and on October 13, 2021, Shapiro announced his candidacy for governor in the 2022 election. In January 2022, Shapiro’s campaign reported it had $13.4 million in campaign funds, which was described as a record amount for a candidate in an election year.[43] Shapiro faced no opponents in the Democratic primary for Governor and on May 17, 2022, Shapiro secured the Democratic nomination.[44] He will face Republican Doug Mastriano in the general election.

Shapiro is a self-described progressive Democrat and is running on a platform of protecting voting rights, abortion rights, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Shapiro’s campaign faced criticism from some progressives because of his support for capital punishment for “heinous crimes”, his public feuds with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and his compromising with police unions to pass police reform bills.[45] However, efforts to enlist a progressive primary challenge to Shapiro were unsuccessful.[45] Shapiro later changed his position, now saying he is an opponent of capital punishment and would sign a bill to abolish it.[46]

During the lead up to the primary election, Shapiro’s campaign released a statewide televised advertisement referring to a Mastriano win as “a win for what Donald Trump stands for”, referencing Mastriano’s stance on outlawing abortion and his efforts to audit the 2020 presidential election. The ad was seen as an “endorsement” for which Republican primary contender Shapiro would want to face in the general election, with Mastriano being seen as too “extreme” for swing voters to elect.[47][48] Mastriano won the Republican primary and his closest opponent, former Congressman Lou Barletta, later said that Shapiro’s ads likely helped Mastriano win the primary.[49] However, the impact Shapiro’s ads had on the primary is disputed as Mastriano was already in the lead for the Republican nomination.[50]


Shapiro has said if elected governor, he will protect abortion access in Pennsylvania and veto any bill passed by the state legislature that would outlaw abortion in the Commonwealth.[51] In contrast, Mastriano said he would support outlawing abortion in Pennsylvania without any exceptions, including in cases of rape or the mother’s life being at risk.[52] Shapiro opposes capital punishment.[46]

He supports cutting the commonwealth’s nearly 10% corporate tax rate to 4% by 2025. Shapiro has proposed hiring 2,000 additional police officers across Pennsylvania and stated the “more police officers we hire, the more opportunities we have for them to get out of their patrol cars, walk the beat, learn the names of the kids in the communities…”[53] On efforts to mitigate COVID-19, Shapiro has broken with some in the Democratic Party and opposes mask and vaccine mandates.[54] He instead prefers educating the public about the efficacy of vaccines.[54] Shapiro also opposes Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based program to reduce some greenhouse gas emissions.[55] He has proposed expanding Pennsylvania’s clean energy portfolio for utility companies, greater electric car infrastructure and investing in clean energy research and development.[55] Shapiro supports a Lifeline Scholarship bill in Pennsylvania, which creates education savings accounts, for children in failing public schools, that can be spent on approved expenses including tutoring, instructional materials and private school tuition.[56]

Shapiro has proposed a plan that will allow for a $250 gas tax refund per personal passenger vehicle up to four vehicles per household. He proposed funding the proposal through federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.[57] On the issue of vocational training, Shapiro has proposed increasing career and technical training in high schools, tripling state funding for apprenticeships and union skills programs and creating a Pennsylvania office of workforce development.[58][59] He also supports eliminating four-year degree requirements for state government jobs.[59]

Endorsements and support

Before his announcement, term-limited Governor Tom Wolf endorsed Shapiro’s bid.[60][61] He has also received endorsements from former Governor Ed Rendell, State Senator Anthony H. Williams, former Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Marcel Groen and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Additionally, he was endorsed by the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, four SEIU local unions consisting of over 80,000 SEIU members in the state.[62] In January 2022 the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee unanimously endorsed him. The committee also endorsed his preferred running mate, State Rep. Austin Davis of McKeesport.[63] Other union support included the Philadelphia Carpenters Union and Sheet Metal workers, the Western Pennsylvania Laborers’ PAC, and the Electricians Union Local No. 5 in Pittsburgh.[64]

Eight Republican former officials including former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman and former Congressman Charlie Dent, as well as the sitting Republican chairman of the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners, Morgan Boyd, endorsed Shapiro with several describing Republican candidate Doug Mastriano as “extreme” and “divisive”.[65] Seven more former Republican officials including former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff endorsed Shapiro in August 2022 for the same reason.[66]

Personal life

Shapiro proposed to his wife Lori in Jerusalem in 1997.[6] He married her on May 25 of that year.[67] They live with their four children in Abington, Pennsylvania.[9] Shapiro is an observant Conservative Jew who keeps kosher.[13]

Electoral history

2004 Pennsylvania State Representative election for the 153rd district
DemocraticJosh Shapiro 18,237 54.3% +20.3%
RepublicanJon D. Fox15,02244.7%-21.5
LibertarianMatthew Wusinich3160.9%N/A
Total votes33,575 100.0% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican
2006 Pennsylvania State Representative election for the 153rd district
DemocraticJosh Shapiro (incumbent) 19,712 76.0% +21.7%
RepublicanLouis J. “Lou” Guerra Jr.6,22624%-20.7%
Total votes26,938 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
2008 Pennsylvania State Representative election for the 153rd district
DemocraticJosh Shapiro (incumbent) 33,165 100.0% +24.0%
Total votes33,165 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
2010 Pennsylvania State Representative election for the 153rd district
DemocraticJosh Shapiro (incumbent) 17,430 70.1% -29.9%
RepublicanThomas J. “Tom” Bogar7,42629.8%+29.8%
Total votes24,856 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
2011 Montgomery County Board of Commissioners election
DemocraticJosh Shapiro 89,103 27.0% N/A
DemocraticLeslie Richards 87,109 26.4% N/A
RepublicanBruce Castor (incumbent) 77,732 23.5% N/A
RepublicanJenny Brown76,05723.0%
Total votes330,001 100.0% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican
2015 Montgomery County Board of Commissioners election
DemocraticJosh Shapiro (incumbent) 97,212 30.9% N/A
DemocraticVal Arkoosh 88,958 28.2% N/A
RepublicanJoe Gale 65,740 20.9% N/A
RepublicanSteven Tolbert Jr.62,64419.9%
Total votes314,601 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
2016 Pennsylvania Attorney General election, Democratic primary[68]
Democratic Josh Shapiro 725,168 47.0
DemocraticStephen Zappala566,50136.8
DemocraticJohn Morganelli250,09716.2
Total votes1,541,766 100.0
2016 Pennsylvania Attorney General election[68]
DemocraticJosh Shapiro 3,057,010 51.39% -4.75%
RepublicanJohn Rafferty2,891,32548.61%+7.05%
Total votes5,948,335 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
2020 Pennsylvania Attorney General election[69]
DemocraticJosh Shapiro (incumbent) 3,461,472 50.85% -0.56%
RepublicanHeather Heidelbaugh3,153,83146.33%-2.28%
LibertarianDaniel Wassmer120,4891.77%N/A
GreenRichard L. Weiss70,8041.04%N/A
Total votes6,806,596 100.0%
Democratic hold
2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, Democratic primary
Democratic Josh Shapiro 1,226,107 100.0
Total votes1,226,107 100.0
2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election
DemocraticJosh Shapiro To be determined To be determined To be determined
RepublicanDoug MastrianoTBDTBDTBD
Total votesTo be determined To be determined N/A
To be determined hold


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External links

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 153rd district

Succeeded by

Party political offices
Preceded by

Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Pennsylvania
2016, 2020
Most recent
Preceded by

Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Legal offices
Preceded by

Attorney General of Pennsylvania