Josh Shapiro defeated two challengers to win the Democratic primary for attorney general.
The matzah pizza was pretty much gone by the time a jubilant Josh Shapiro, convincing winner of the attorney general’s race in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, finally entered the room shortly after 11 p.m.
There were some 300 to 400 people celebrating at the Doubletree Hilton in King of Prussia, and it seemed the 42-year-old Montgomery County commissioner thanked just about every single one during his victory speech.
But, above all, he wanted to thank the voters of Pennsylvania for taking a chance on a man who’d never run a statewide election before.
“Three months ago we launched this campaign to bring about fairness and integrity to our justice system,” said Shapiro who — with 99 percent of precincts reporting — earned 47 percent of the votes, compared to Steve Zappala’s 37 percent and John Morganelli’s 16 percent. “So many people told us along the way that a pragmatic, progressive reformer couldn’t win a statewide race.
“Friends, we showed them we could do it the Montgomery County way.
“We’ve traversed the state and been to many events over the past three months. We’ve talked to people who’ve been targeted by scam artists in Scranton. We’ve talked to people who’ve been victims of gun violence in Pittsburgh. We’ve talked to young families here in Montgomery County concerned about their contaminated drinking water.
“It’s time to use this office to be a voice for the voiceless, to be a progressive force for change and to make our communities safer. That’s what I’ll do as your attorney general.”
With the cheers and applause filling the room, Shapiro kept rolling.
“I’m running because I fundamentally believe Pennsylvania needs real reform,” he emphasized. “We’ve got to clean ourselves up from the scandals that have rocked our system.
“There’s a crisis in confidence in Pennsylvania that makes too many people believe the system isn’t working for them but is rigged against them. I’m running to repair that breach of trust. I’m running to make sure our justice system works for each and every Pennsylvanian.”
And having defeated Zappala and Morganelli, who both called to congratulate him and pledge their support, he’ll be running in November against John Rafferty, who breezed to victory in the Republican primary with a commanding 64 percent of the vote.
“I know it’s gonna be a spirited discussion,” Shapiro said. “A great race about the direction we need to take this office. It needs to be one that brings integrity to our system. We’re in a unique position to do that.
“I’m looking forward to a good, spirited campaign.”
But first it was time to celebrate, with friends, family and assorted well-wishers all taking delight in a victory Shapiro bragged was accomplished by literally driving across the state — logging 21,152 miles in his trusty Chevy.
So what, in his mind, made the difference?
“Just hard work,” said Shapiro, joined on the podium by his wife, Lori, and three of his four children. “Telling a clear story and having a vision of what this office can be, fighting for progressive values and being absolutely focused on getting that message out at all times.”
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