Shapiro outraising Rafferty in AG race
NY billionaire Bloomberg contributes $250K to Dem
As the Pennsylvania attorney general campaign enters the final stretch, Democrat Josh Shapiro has about $700,000 more at his disposal than Republican John C. Rafferty Jr., thanks in part to a $250,000 contribution from New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
The most recent campaign filings for both campaigns show that Shapiro has more than $1.4 million on hand to spend while Rafferty’s campaign has just over $700,000.
Filings for the period from May 17 to Sept. 19 show Shapiro has so far spent more than $3.4 million on his campaign, while Rafferty has spent a mere $671,000.
All total, the campaign finance reports show in 2016, Shapiro has raised nearly $5 million — $4.9 million — while Rafferty has raised $1.3 million.
“Money is always an issue for any candidate,” Rafferty told Digital First Media when asked about the disparity, adding wryly “but then I don’t have any out-of-state billionaires contributing to my campaign.”
Shapiro, currently chairman of the Montgomery County commissioners, said the money from
Bloomberg — who served three terms as the mayor of New York City and is sometimes mentioned as a presidential contender — was largely the result of the agreement the two politicians have on issues of gun control.
“He likes what we’ve done in Montgomery County and our bipartisan approach to government,” Shapiro added.
With both candidates agreeing on many of the issues, if not the methods, which need to be addressed by the next attorney general — the opioid epidemic, increased consumer protection, returning an air of integrity to the office — gun control issues are becoming a clear area of difference.
Shapiro supports allowing local municipalities to enact their own gun laws, whereas Rafferty, a state senator representing the 44th District, supported a 2014 law that allowed outside groups like the National Rifle Association to sue those municipalities, whether they were prosecuted under those local laws or not.
Shapiro has also pledged to follow in the example of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and “work with gun show operators to establish a set of model gun show procedures” in order to “ensure illegal sales do not occur in the parking lot of Pennsylvania guns shows” and believes background checks should be expanded to include private sales of long guns.
Shapiro has also pledged to “review” reciprocity agreements with other states, which sometimes allow those who cannot obtain concealed carry permits in Pennsylvania to obtain them from other states with fewer restrictions — often called “the Florida loophole.”
Rafferty, who has an “A” rating from the NRA, said his approach to illegal guns is to “get them out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”
Rafferty said he does not see the need for any additional gun control laws, although he touts his leadership in the passage of a new law increasing penalties for straw purchasers, enacted after a weapon bought that way killed Plymouth officer Bradley Fox, a New Hanover resident.
But while Rafferty may be well thought of by the NRA, it hasn’t translated into big bucks.
According to the most recent campaign finance filing, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund has contributed just $1,000 to Rafferty’s campaign.
A look through Rafferty’s contributors indicates that many of his smaller contributions are coming from across the state, while larger amounts are coming from political action committees ranging from the State Trooper’s Association ($25,000) to horse breeders ($5,000) to the Northeast PA Leadership Fund ($50,000) out of Wilkes-Barre.
Also, many of Rafferty’s contributors are other Republican politicians, including $5,000 each from U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello (R-6, of West Goshen); and Pat Meehan (R-7, of Chadds Ford); $2,000 from U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15, of Lehigh County); $1,000 from Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach and $10,000 from Delaware County Councilman David White’s campaign coffers.
The campaign chests of Rafferty’s colleagues in the Senate are also lending a hand — $10,000 from Pat Browne, $35,000 from Joe Scarnati and $25,000 from Rafferty’s own Senate campaign fund.
Of course, Shapiro is not shy of political contributors either.
The campaign of fellow Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh has contributed $26,500 to Shapiro’s campaign, and Gov. Tom Wolf contributed $20,000 of his own money, according to the filing.
Shapiro has also received sizeable contributions from the political action committees of a number of unions and their chapters, including $50,000 from branches of the Service Employees International Union; $50,000 from the Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers, $25,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and $25,000 each from the national and Pennsylvania chapters of the National Education Association.
A number of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh law firms have also lent a hand and its clear from the filings that many of Shapiro’s contributions are coming from the major metropolitan areas around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and far fewer from other parts of the commonwealth.
And although he didn’t quite match Bloomberg’s contribution, Shapiro did benefit from the largesse of another New York billionaire — George Soros.
Of course, Soros only contributed $5,000.
Josh Shapiro John C. Rafferty Jr.