Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general Josh Shapiro speaks to a crowd during his campaign launch address for Pennsylvania governor, in Pittsburgh. Shapiro, is breaking with Gov. Tom Wolf on the centerpiece of Wolf's plan to fight climate change amid the pushback it has received from influential building trades unions. Shapiro’s statement came as he prepared Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 to address union leaders from the pipeline trades who planned to question him about his position. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) Pennsylvania's Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate,Josh Shapiro
Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general Josh Shapiro speaks to a crowd during his campaign launch address for Pennsylvania governor, in Pittsburgh. Shapiro, is breaking with Gov. Tom Wolf on the centerpiece of Wolf's plan to fight climate change amid the pushback it has received from influential building trades unions. Shapiro’s statement came as he prepared Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 to address union leaders from the pipeline trades who planned to question him about his position. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

All eyes will be on Pennsylvania in November as a number of hotly contested races with nationwide implications will be decided at the ballot box.

On Nov. 8, Pennsylvania voters will head to the polls to choose who will succeed a retiring Republican US Senator in the 50-50 chamber and a term-limited Democratic governor.

The 2022 general election in the commonwealth is rife with hotly contested races that will impact not only the state, but the nation as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the headline races.

US Senate

The race for Pennsylvania’s US Senate seat is widely considered to be one of the most important races in the country this year. 

With Republican US Sen. Pat Toomey retiring and Pennsylvania a pretty purple state, many see it as a seat Democrats could win and change the balance of power in the Senate.

And the majority party will determine whether key initiatives to preserve democracy and improve the economy make it to the president’s desk.

Here’s who is on the ballot in November.

John Fetterman (D)

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, 52, of Braddock, Allegheny County, was the mayor of Braddock before he was elected to state office. He has used his position as lieutenant governor to advocate for criminal justice reform, better healthcare, raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, and legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. 

Fetterman says addressing climate change and legalizing recreational marijuana are necessary actions that will create jobs. In 2019, he visited every county in the state, hosting town halls about legalization, and found that 65-70% of the attendees support legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. 

He is also an advocate for minority communities, immigration, and abortion rights.

Mehmet Oz (R)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, 61, is a physician in New York City, and former host of “The Dr. Oz Show.” 

Oz says America failed in responding to the pandemic. Oz supports vaccines and expanding research and funding for COVID-19 treatment.

In the last few years, Oz has promoted some questionable therapies, including pills for weight loss and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment. He has financial ties to Big Pharma and Big Tech companies, having served as a promoter, investor, and consultant to both industries.

Oz is anti-abortion. He has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and pays vague lip service to the “Big Lie” and the GOP’s notion of free and fair elections on his campaign website.

Governor

As Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf nears his term limit, the door to the governor’s house in Harrisburg is wide open.

It is a race that has enormous implications for people in every corner of Pennsylvania. 

With veto power and the ability to appoint judges and fill other vacancies in the state government, the governor has often been the last line of defense against policies that are detrimental to democracy in the commonwealth.

With a Republican majority in the state Legislature, if the GOP wins back the governor’s seat, they stand a better chance of enacting conservative policies that would restrict reproductive rights and voting rights. 

Here’s who’s running for governor in the upcoming election.

Josh Shapiro (D)

Josh Shapiro, 48, is a Montgomery County resident with a long political career: He has served as a state representative, chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, and state attorney general. 

Shapiro fought former President Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election and continues to fight Republicans’ efforts to gain access to 9 million Pennsylvanians’ personal information for an election audit. 

In his campaign kickoff speech, Shapiro said Republican gubernatorial candidates are “peddling the Big Lie” about the 2020 presidential election results and are “doing real damage to our democracy.”

In a campaign video, Shapiro said Republican candidates “want to lead us down a dark path, undermine free and fair elections, strip away voting rights and permanently divide us.” 

Shapiro is a vocal supporter of reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, raising the minimum wage, and legalizing recreational marijuana for adults.

Doug Mastriano (R)

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) is a retired Army colonel who served 30 years of active duty. The 58-year-old Fayetteville resident was first elected to the state Legislature in 2019. During his time in office, he has voiced his opposition to abortions, mask mandates, and COVID lockdowns. 

Mastriano has been an outspoken supporter of Trump and said the former president asked him to run for governor last May. 

State Democrats called for his resignation last year after he organized bus trips to the Trump rally that led to the insurrection. 

Mastriano launched a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election last July. State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) removed him from leading the investigation after disputes over how to run it. He continues to promote Trump’s lies about the election and has pushed for the results to be overturned.

Mastriano introduced a bill in 2021 that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy. 

He has supported legislation that would have made it legal for adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Mastriano is opposed to raising the minimum wage.

Mastriano is also against legalizing recreational marijuana. He has publicly criticized Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for displaying marijuana flags at the state Capitol building.

US House – Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District

Incumbent Democratic US Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) is up for reelection in November. She faces Republican nominee Lisa Scheller for Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district seat. The district includes all of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties and part of Montgomery County.

Wild, of South Whitehall Township, is a former attorney and served as Allentown’s first female city solicitor. In Congress, Wild has fought to cap prescription drug costs, provide support for veterans struggling with addiction, and to fix supply chain issues.

Scheller, of Allentown, is chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Co., a global manufacturer of aluminum-based pigments in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County. She previously served on the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. 

US House – Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District

Incumbent Democratic US Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) is up for reelection in November. He faces Republican nominee Jim Bognet for Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district seat. The district includes all of Lackawanna, Pike, and Wayne counties and part of Luzerne and Monroe counties.

Cartwright, of Moosic, is a former trial attorney. In Congress, Cartwright has fought to protect low-income veterans, safeguard the rights of child pornography victims, and pass coronavirus relief packages that helped workers, families, and small businesses.

Bognet, of Hazleton, has interned for GOP Senator Rick Santorum, worked on former Congressman Lou Barletta’s first campaign, and was a political appointee for the Trump administration.

Trump has endorsed Bognet for Congress, praising him as “pro-wall, pro-life, and pro-gun.”