February 22, 2022
"Who are you supporting for Governor, Russ?"
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked this question in the weeks since I've announced my candidacy for Lieutenant Governor.
When asked, I'm immediately led to believe the person asking has not thoroughly thought the question through and/or does not fully comprehend how the electoral process for Governor and Lieutenant Governor works in Pennsylvania. Maybe they believe it works like the President/Vice President matchup works at the national level.
At the national level there is no Primary Election for the Vice President of the United States. Presidential candidates compete against each other in primaries in every state, with the ultimate winner hand-picking their Vice Presidential running mate sometime later, usually at or around the time of their national party convention.
That's not the way it works for Governor/Lieutenant Governor teams here in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania's system is more like an arranged marriage, with voters serving as the matchmaker. Candidates for Governor compete against each other in the Primary Election. Candidates for Lieutenant Governor also compete against each other, but wholly disconnected from the Governor's race.
After the Primary Election, our nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor are inextricably tied together on a singular ticket for the General Election. They are a team, and run as a team. You can't vote for them separately in the fall. It's a quirky political arranged marriage – and perhaps we should change that – but it's the way it is now.
So now put yourself in my shoes. At this early stage of the game, would you announce to the world who your favorite potential running mate is? And if you did, what will happen if a different candidate eventually becomes your running mate instead?
Announcing a preference in dance partners before the dance even begins will likely spell trouble later.
In a year when every last Republican in Pennsylvania needs to unite to beat Josh Shapiro in November, announcing your preferred running mate – if you even have one – is not the best of strategic moves. We cannot afford to waste whatever time it might take to get past the egos and potential hurt feelings of an awkward arranged marriage.
I've spent the last six weeks running around the state and spending time with the various candidates for Governor, and of course I have opinions about all them. But I am not short-sighted enough to publicly announce a preference for any of them. I am not the matchmaker here – the voters are. I will not risk AWKWARD, given the certainty that it would only benefit Josh Shapiro.
Despite Pennsylvania's system being a quirky arranged marriage, it does create an advantage with its two-person united ticket in the fall.
You, the Pennsylvania Republican voter, will now get to strategically select the best TWO candidates to fill those positions, rather than rely on a singular pick for the entire Commonwealth to rally behind in November, like we do in other races.
If you're smart you'll select two candidates who complement each other, but draw support from two different flavors of voters. We MUST do this to outperform our voter registration deficit in Pennsylvania. The Democrats have 600,000 more registered voters than Republicans statewide, if you didn't already know.
We need to appeal to the more moderate voters in the suburbs, who may have voted for Biden. And we need to appeal to our conservative base, who likely voted for Trump. We need both groups to be excited about our ticket and its plan to turn Pennsylvania around. Luckily for us, we can choose TWO different candidates to get the job done, rather than just one.
"OK so who are you supporting for Governor then, Russ?"
My only answer at this time is that I'm willing to work with anyone who's willing to work with me. But I will not risk AWKWARD. There's too much at stake in the fall.
And it really doesn't matter anyway, because I am not the matchmaker. You are the matchmaker. I'm just one of the potential running mates in this arranged marriage. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to vote for the TWO candidates who when combined will appeal to the maximum possible total voters to defeat Josh Shapiro in November.