With Josh Shapiro taking office, Pennsylvania now has successive Democrats as governor for the first time in more than 60 years.
Democrat Josh Shapiro took the oath of office as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor Tuesday in Harrisburg, following a decisive victory over far-right Republican Doug Mastriano in November’s election.
Shapiro, 49, follows two-term Democrat Tom Wolf as governor, giving Pennsylvania successive Democratic governors for the first time since George Leader and George Lawrence each served one term from 1955-1963.
“I am humbled to stand before you today as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor,” Shapiro said at the start of his remarks from the podium. “Along the winding road that has led to this moment, I have been grounded in my faith and family.”
This Democratic continuity — along with the likelihood that Democrats will soon hold the majority in the state House for the first time in 12 years after special elections for three vacant seats on Feb. 7— should provide a firewall for abortion rights in the commonwealth, and help to move along long-stalled issues like raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 and legalizing recreational marijuana.
Shapiro enters office with more experience in state government than any of his recent predecessors, including eight years as a state lawmaker and six as the state’s elected attorney general.
Chief Justice Debra Todd administered the oath while Shapiro, a devout Jew, placed his hand on a stack of three copies of the Hebrew Bible, including one from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman in 2018 killed 11 worshippers in the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history. He was joined on stage by a small group of invited guests — including survivors of child sexual abuse, parents of children killed by gun violence and the widows of two state troopers killed in the line of duty — who aides said symbolize his accomplishments as attorney general and his bipartisan policy aims as governor.
In his speech, Shapiro emphasized the importance of defending democracy and rejecting extremism, and vowed to seek progress on important quality-of-life issues for all Pennsylvanians. In a declaration of what his victory over Doug Mastriano symbolized, Shapiro underscored the importance of standing up to bigotry and hatred.
“Pennsylvanians can indeed find light in the midst of darkness and drown out the voices of hate and bigotry,” Shapiro said. “Here in Pennsylvania, we didn’t allow the extremists who peddle lies drown out the truth. We showed that our system works and that our elections are free and fair, safe and secure.”
Members of several faiths delivered an invocation at the event, where the capacity was about 4,400.
The inauguration will culminate in a sold-out, $50-per-ticket bash at Rock Lititz Studios in Lititz featuring performances by rapper Wiz Khalifa, singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson and indie rock band Mt. Joy.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.