Heather Heidelbaugh wants to deny Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro a second term. It’s an expensive and challenging proposition.But the little-known Pittsburgh lawyer is getting some valuable help from allies of Sen. Pat Toomey — whom political watchers in both parties see as on a likely collision course with Shapiro in the 2022 governor’s race.While the presidential election consumes voters’ attention, political insiders see the under-the-radar contest for attorney general as a potent prelude to a race that will be very much the center of attention in two years. That subplot played out Monday when a new group started airing digital ads critical of spending by the Attorney General’s Office under Shapiro. Toomey is indirectly helping the group.Toomey has committed to raising significant amounts of money for the Republican Attorneys General Association, in anticipation that it will spend big to support Heidelbaugh, according to two Republican campaign consultants familiar with Toomey’s thinking. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Toomey’s plans.
That’s right, Toomey is eyeing the 2022 Governor race:
One of the worst-kept secrets in Pennsylvania politics is that Sen. Pat Toomey is considering a run for governor in 2022.So when the Republican rolled out a plan Thursday to reopen Pennsylvania’s economy, and do it more quickly, in many cases, than Gov. Tom Wolf has planned, it renewed speculation about Toomey’s intentions. Four Pennsylvania GOP insiders who spoke to The Inquirer all saw it as an attempt from the senator to show how he would lead as an executive as he weighed in on a critical issue that has raised the profiles of governors across the country.
“It was a pretty clear smoke signal” that Toomey is thinking about a bid for the statehouse, said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg, though he, like everyone else interviewed, added that he didn’t believe any decision has been made.
Instead of doing his job, Toomey’s been trashing Governor Tom Wolf’s (D. PA) handling of the coronavirus panndemic:
Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Scott Perry on Wednesday took aim at the Wolf administration’s handling of the coronavirus, blaming it for what they said was a weak state economic recovery.
At a press conference in York attended by about two dozen business leaders and elected officials, the two Republican lawmakers criticized some of the restrictions and measures rolled out by Gov. Tom Wolf intended to mitigate the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Toomey first outlined the federal response to the pandemic, including the release of trillions of dollars to states under the CARES Act, which he said significantly staved off what many had projected would be a catastrophic economic disaster. But he singled Pennsylvania out as an outlier, in particular its unemployment rate. The state’s unemployment rate hit 13.7% in July, well above the national rate of 10.2%.
Meanwhile, Shapiro has been doing his job and kicking ass:
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday that his office will be filing a federal lawsuit to challenge “nationwide operation changes at the U.S. Postal Service.”
Mr. Shapiro said the lawsuit will be filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The state attorney general is joined by several Democratic attorneys general across the country in suing the agency and its new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, to reverse changes that have disrupted mail-delivery operations and have stoked fears about mail-in ballot deliveries.
Those changes are “illegal,” Mr. Shapiro said during a virtual press conference with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Gov. Tom Wolf and rural Pennsylvanians who reported delays in receiving their medical prescriptions.
Shapiro, a Montgomery County Democrat, returned fire this week with his own first television ad, knocking Heidelbaugh as a “hack lawyer” who is using negative ads to distort his record on behalf of special interests like insurance companies.That prompted the Republican Attorneys General Association — part of a coalition of political action committees that engage in races for state legislatures, judicial posts and row offices — to accuse Shapiro of being “clearly misogynistic” for calling Heidelbaugh a hack. Does RAGA plans to air television ads to help Heidelbaugh? The group declined to comment when Clout asked.Heidelbaugh, who trails Shapiro in campaign cash, is getting backup from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a political action committee founded and funded by conservative activists. That PAC, which gave her $50,000 in June, has already spent $144,000 airing TV ads supporting her, according to the ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics. It has booked a total of $435,000 worth of air time in the race. Its first ad decries Shapiro as “a career politician already looking to run for governor.”
And Shapiro has been calling out Toomey for trying to meddle in this race. Received this e-mail today from Shapiro’s re-election campaign:
Josh put it best when he said the other day: “When you take on the powerful interests, you're going to have people who want to fire back at you.”
That's exactly what they're doing.
In the Senate, Pat Toomey has been fighting tooth and nail to defend his special interest backers. First, he gave them a big tax break. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, he's handed out billions in federal dollars to corporations and millionaires — but now is refusing to help our frontline workers and struggling Pennsylvanians.
Meanwhile, as the people's Attorney General, Josh has been fighting AGAINST the powerful interests — holding big corporations accountable and putting people first.
Pat Toomey and his special interest friends don't like that Josh is taking on the big fights. So they're sending money to national Republican PACs that are attacking Josh online and on TV.
Listen, we can't let Pat Toomey's attacks go unnoticed. He wants to smear Josh's record because he knows that Josh will keep fightings to hold the powerful accountable.
We need all our strongest supporters to step up and help Josh, just like Josh fights for us.