This year has been characterized by far-right attacks on everyday working people—and an increasingly extremist attempt by Republicans to hold onto power by whatever means they determine necessary, even when they cannot win majorities. In May, we learned of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In July, our County Commissioners refused to certify election results from the May primary elections. And all throughout the year, we have heard Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz, the two statewide candidates in Pennsylvania, campaign on restricted voting, jailtime for those who seek abortions, and an all-out attack on democracy as we know it in the United States. It is clear what is at stake in next week’s Midterm Elections.
Though we have seen a lot of ugliness in the past several months, we are fortunate here in Lancaster County to have so many people step up to meet the moment. Thousands of Lancaster residents showed up to support abortion and reproductive freedoms this summer. And this fall, we’ve seen more volunteers than in any year since Jess King ran for Congress in 2018. Whether it’s corporate greed, Christian Nationalism, or attacks on voting and democracy, we have said, definitively: Lancaster is for all of us. We know that it is up to us to make our county a place where everyone is welcome, included, and safe, and where everyone can afford to live a good life.
We have prepared the voter guide below as a service to our membership and the larger voting public. We believe it is not enough to encourage voters to just vote for Democrats. Defeating an increasingly extremist GOP is critically important today, but it is our assessment that the most effective way to do that is to make the Democratic Party more attractive to more voters by running and electing candidates who fight visibly and vocally for everyday working people — people’s champions who are not afraid to take on powerful corporate interests. We believe that we can have a clear-eyed view about the strengths and shortcomings of Democratic candidates and officeholders and still be decisive in the choices we need to make in the voting booth. We believe that living in a democracy means speaking out and pressuring elected officials to improve and better represent their constituents—even including the ones who we vote for.
In this voter guide, we give an overview of each race, what we are looking for from our candidates, and what’s at stake. This guide includes the Governor’s race, US Senate race, and the PA-11 Congressional race. For statehouse races, we do not include every district that overlaps with part of Lancaster County, but instead focus on HD-49, HD-96, and HD-98. Spoiler: we are asking you to vote for Josh Shapiro / Austin Davis, John Fetterman, Bob Hollister, and, depending on where you live, Ismail Smith-Wade-El, Mike Sturla, and Mark Temons.
-The Lancaster Stands Up leadership team & electoral team
Governor & Lieutenant Governor: Josh Shapiro & Austin Davis
Top of mind for millions of Pennsylvania voters this election is the US Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. Since then, 17 states across the United States have banned abortion outright. Several more enforce harsh restrictions. While abortion remains legal here in Pennsylvania, there are many barriers to access, including a 24-hour waiting period and the opportunity for parents to restrict access for minors. Today the threat of a total ban across Pennsylvania could become reality as early as January, should Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano win.
For eight years, Governor Tom Wolf has used his veto pen to stop an increasingly extreme GOP-majority PA legislature from passing more restrictions on the right to abortion. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, losing the governorship to a Republican would almost guarantee a statewide total ban on abortion—especially when the GOP candidate is an unapologetic far-right extremist and Christian nationalist who has pledged to do exactly that.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro has pledged to do everything in his power as governor to protect the right to abortion in Pennsylvania and protect all of our reproductive freedoms. This is a crucial reason why we are strongly urging you to vote for the ticket of Josh Shapiro for Governor and Austin Davis for Lieutenant Governor.
Shapiro’s strengths extend well beyond the issue of reproductive rights. For the past six years as Attorney General, Shapiro led efforts to combat gun violence, for-profit school fraud, and the opioid epidemic, while working to support reproductive healthcare, marijuana legalization, and voting rights in Pennsylvania. Shapiro has demonstrated a real commitment to fighting for everyday working people and a willingness to directly confront powerful interests.
Our criticisms of Shapiro this year have been mostly matters of disagreement on his campaign strategy. Our view is that his campaign made a significant strategic mistake during the primary by campaigning against Mastriano before Mastriano won the Republican nomination, in a way that many interpreted as an attempt to bolster Mastriano’s name recognition and support among Republicans in the lead-up to the May primary. Shapiro’s strategy, presumably, was based on a belief that Mastriano would be an easier opponent to beat in the general election. Not only did this strategy resemble the failed strategy of the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign (i.e., working to ensure that Trump was the nominee, because Dems mistakenly supposed he would be easier to beat), it also provided a literal fascist with a much bigger platform and greater legitimacy. Even if the gambit seems to pay off in the short-term and Mastriano loses in November, we know that in 2026 there will likely be a stronger Republican candidate who will run on a similar platform as Mastriano. The threat of fascism in Pennsylvania is growing and needs no help in gaining a platform. Josh Shapiro and other Democratic candidates and officeholders should not make this mistake again.
There are two policies that we urge Josh Shapiro to reverse his stance on: 1) his support for funding private charter schools with public school dollars, and 2) cutting corporate tax cuts. While the right is focused on dismantling public education in Pennsylvania, it is crucial that we fight to protect public schools and fully fund them—not sell out taxpayer dollars to charter schools that are unaccountable to the public. Replacing public schools with charter schools, which is a Republican aim, would exacerbate inequality, depriving the children of working families of the right to quality education. Public schools exist to serve everybody, and charter schools do nothing but drain their finances and dismantle teachers unions. On the issue of corporate tax cuts, Shapiro has taken the unpopular view that corporations are taxed too much in Pennsylvania. In a state with failing infrastructure, underfunded schools, and inadequate housing for too many of us, it is past time that corporations making huge profits pay their fair share. Should Shapiro win, we will work to move him on these stances.
With so much at stake in November, it is clear who the best candidate for Governor is, which is why we are recommending you vote for Josh Shapiro. Republican majorities in the PA House and Senate have resulted in a slew of bills over the past eight years designed to make Pennsylvania a harder place to live for working people. Republicans have championed legislation that would make it harder to join a union, attend public schools, receive necessary healthcare, and vote. For eight years, we have been relying on the veto-power of Governor Tom Wolf to keep the GOP from dismantling public protections. If the partisan balance in the legislature remains the same after the November election, it would be nothing short of a complete disaster if Mastriano were to win the governorship.
And we have real hopes for what Shapiro might accomplish as governor. Should Democrats win majorities in the PA House and Senate—whether this year or in 2024—and with a growing slate of people’s champions (like Izzy Smith-Wade-El, Elizabeth Fiedler, Sara Innamarato, Rick Krajewski, Nikil Saval, and others) in the state legislature, we will be able to move from playing perpetual defense to actually delivering for working families across our Commonwealth.
U.S. Senator: John Fetterman
John Fetterman has been a reliably progressive voice on the state level since his election to Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Fetterman has been a champion on criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization, and organized labor. If elected to the US Senate, he would be among the most progressive senators in the United States.
In the primary season, while Conor Lamb racked up endorsements of politicians and local Democratic Parties, Fetterman showed up everywhere across the state—no town was too small—signaling with his whole being that he is in the corner of everyday working people, that he is not interested in ingratiating himself to the political class. He beat Lamb in every one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
Fetterman now faces the discredited TV personality Mehmet Oz, who has run a campaign focused on racist fear-mongering and attacks on Fetterman for recovering from his stroke in May. The difference between Oz and Fetterman is clear. Oz would bring the United States closer to a federal ban on abortion, dismantling First Amendment protections, and an even larger gap between the rich and everybody else. Fetterman, on the other hand, could bring us the vote in the Senate we need to codify the right to abortion into federal law, strengthen voting rights, make it easier to join a union, and deliver more for working people.
John Fetterman is the clear choice to serve Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. Mehmet Oz would be disastrous for Pennsylvania and for America.
If elected as Pennsylvania’s next US Senator, we will urge Fetterman to change his position on fracking in our state. Fetterman has been a supporter of fracking and the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania for years. A common defense of the industry is that it creates jobs and is safer than coal and oil. But hydraulic fracking, in reality, has created short-lived booms and long-term busts in areas where fracking companies operate. From a health and environmental lens, fracking causes higher rates of cancer and birth defects, contaminated food and water supplies, and overall pollution of the natural environment. Many families have been forced to move due to the industry’s presence. Fracking is not a viable energy source in either the short-term or the long-term, and only serves to delay our necessary transition to renewable energy in our fight against climate change.
Despite our disagreement with Fetterman on this important issue, he is the clear choice in this election and our strong recommendation. The 50-50 partisan split in the United States Senate for the past two years has paralyzed efforts to deliver big for working families. Some progress has been made, as Vice President Kamala Harris has cast the tie-breaking vote to move forward key legislation and appointments, including the American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, and several key appointments to the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and U.S. Court of Appeals. But two corporate Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), stopped the Build Back Better Act, the marquee legislation championed by the White House that would have reduced prescription drug prices nationwide, greatly expanded childcare access, forced corporations and the rich to pay their fair share in taxes, and made historic investments in climate change (even greater than the Inflation Reduction Act’s framework). If John Fetterman wins and Democrats pick up one additional Senate seat (e.g., in Wisconsin), then Sinema and Manchin will no longer hold this power to obstruct progress for working families.
Moreover, Fetterman points toward a better way for Democrats to do politics: namely to show up for people everywhere. Too much of the Democratic Party establishment leadership has become insulated from America’s working class. Fetterman makes everyday working people his center of gravity.
U.S. Representative for PA-11: Bob Hollister
Bob Hollister is running an uphill battle to replace incumbent Lloyd Smucker in PA-11. Smucker, who is running for his fourth term in Congress, has used his office to rub shoulders with far-right extremists including Donald Trump, and to support organizers of a failed coup on January 6, 2021 to keep Trump in power after losing the 2020 election. We applaud Hollister for picking up the mantle to run against Smucker in these midterm elections. In a year when Republicans in office are using every opportunity to attack everyday working people, it’s important that we stand up and fight against them.
Before running for Congress, Hollister was the superintendent of ELANCO School District, where he fought for Trans students after their school board voted to force students to use bathrooms that did not align with their identities. He fought against this illegal and discriminatory act by the school board and won, ultimately adopting new policy supported by the ACLU. It is also notable that at this time, he was a registered Republican.
Hollister switched his party registration to become a Democrat after January 6. While we appreciate this decision, it is our view that Hollister could have made a stronger contribution—and would have had a better chance of making it to Congress and challenging the GOP’s current extremist push—by keeping his lifelong Republican registration and running against Lloyd Smucker in the Republican primary. Ever since the PA Supreme Court adopted new Congressional maps in 2018, PA-11 (which largely has the same boundaries after redistricting for this cycle) has had an extreme Republican advantage that would take nothing short of a miracle for any Democrat to overcome.
Moreover, if we have a nearly unwinnable congressional district, it is our view that Democrats should run someone who can be a standard-bearer of a strong Democratic vision for Lancaster County—not someone who is in many ways Republican-lite. Running as a Democrat, Hollister has adopted most of the mainstream-Democratic platform. However, since 2018 our congressional candidates have been champions for working people—and have picked open fights with powerful corporate interests, like the health insurance lobby, Big Pharma, and fossil fuel companies. With such a campaign, Jess King performed better in every single precinct than any Democrat ever has. Running a lifelong Republican feels like a step backward. Major structural problems in our economy have either been footnotes in Hollister’s remarks or left wholly unaddressed by his campaign. In a conversation with LNP after announcing his run for Congress, Hollister equated far-right election deniers with “the far-left”—painting a picture of equivalence in a historical moment when one side has attempted a coup and the other side would like every American to have a right to health care.
In the end, we recommend voting for Bob Hollister in the 2022 election. We recognize that Lloyd Smucker and likeminded MAGA Republicans represent an existential threat to American democracy. Bob Hollister would be infinitely better in office than Lloyd Smucker, and you should vote for him.
PA Representative (HD-49): Ismail “Izzy” Smith-Wade-El
Though it shouldn’t be, it is rare for a City Council President, poised to win a seat in the state legislature, to fight as hard for working people as Izzy Smith-Wade-El has. Since his election to Lancaster City Council in 2017, Izzy has been a people’s champion, fighting for fair housing, climate action, marijuana decriminalization, and more. He has consistently fought for police accountability and strengthening public education, as well as access to housing in Lancaster, both through his public duties as City Council President and through his work with the Lancaster County Homlessness Coalition. These are just a few of the reasons why Lancaster Stands Up members voted overwhelmingly to endorse Izzy.
Meanwhile, Izzy’s opponent, Anne Rivers, has hardly campaigned, and similar to other Republicans running for office in Lancaster County, has refused to debate or answer questions about her platform.
There is nobody more qualified to represent Lancaster than Izzy. Izzy represents the spirit of democratic renewal that our community and our nation need. He understands very well that this political system is never going to reform itself—that it is up to everyday people like us to demand and to win the change that we long for. It is up to us to get ourselves organized into a force capable of contending against the big moneyed interests that have hijacked our economy and our democracy for the few at the top. In today’s political climate, it is all too easy to grow jaded and cynical and to come to view these sorts of aspirational goals as naive or utopian. But Izzy is a realist. He harbors no illusions that this vision can be accomplished immediately or all at once, let alone easily or without a struggle. And he understands fundamentally that none of it can be accomplished if everyday working people are passive and marginalized. We have to be active and part of an organized force.
We know how hard it is to build that force, especially because of the deep lines of divisions in our society: race, religion, geography, gender, sexuality, and ideology. But Izzy has shown a deep commitment to helping to organize that force. Over the past four years, Izzy has helped to make positive change in Lancaster City government. He successfully decriminalized cannabis possession in Lancaster, reducing the punishment for possession to a small fine. He moved Community Development Block Grant funds from drug enforcement into affordable housing, and helped secure the largest investment ($5 million) in affordable housing in Lancaster’s history. He reformed the city’s use of force policy, which hadn’t been updated since the 1970s. And he helped to remove the former police chief who opposed reform (and who approved the use of tear gas on children).
Izzy has accomplished so much for Lancaster City, and we can’t wait to see what he’ll accomplish in Harrisburg with allies like Rick Krajewski, Sarah Innamorato, Liz Fiedler, and others working hard to deliver for working Pennsylvanians.
PA Representative (HD-96): Mike Sturla
Mike Sturla has represented Lancaster City in the PA House of Representatives since 1990. He has long been the only Democrat from Lancaster County elected to statewide office, but in 2022 redistricting has given Lancaster County the chance to be represented by at least two Democrats. The catch? Due to redistricting, Mike Sturla faces a more difficult race this year than he has in any of his past fifteen elections to the Statehouse.
Sturla’s opponent, April Weaver, has refused to answer questions about her platform to the LNP, WGAL, the League of Women Voters, and most recently, us (in our candidate questionnaire). Notably, she has remained silent and secretive on how she would vote on a Constitutional Amendment that would ban abortion in Pennsylvania—going to great lengths to avoid giving a clear answer to voters who have asked her. Instead she has encouraged voters to meet with her in private to discuss such matters—only to cancel on those meetings.
Mike Sturla, on the other hand, has been a champion of reproductive rights and has been consistently endorsed by Planned Parenthood. The choice between Sturla and Weaver is clear. We strongly encourage you to vote for Mike Sturla.
We have had our share of disagreements with Mike Sturla over the years. Most recently we were disappointed and concerned about Sturla playing into the GOP’s strategy to slander and unseat Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has been a champion for reforming Philadelphia’s broken criminal justice system. Impeaching Krasner—because Republican lawmakers do not want reform and accountability—would overturn the votes of the 70% of Philadelphians who voted for him. Last month, Mike Sturla voted with the entirety of GOP legislators and other Democrats to hold Philadelphia District Attorney in contempt for challenging an illegal subpoena from an anti-democratic House Committee formed to override the fair and free elections of the City of Philadelphia. Thankfully, Sturla has recently committed to vote against impeaching Larry Krasner. As the GOP-controlled Legislature moves towards its goal of removing duly elected officials with whom it disagrees, it is important that everybody who is committed to democracy stand up together. Going forward, we expect and anticipate that Mike Sturla will use his power in office to protect democracy while the GOP tries to subvert the votes of people all over Pennsylvania.
It is no secret that we have had our share of criticisms of Mike Sturla and that we supported his primary opponent this year. Nonetheless, we are clear in our support for him in the general election. It is critically important that Mike Sturla, and not anti-choice candidate April Weaver, wins this seat. With the new legislative district maps, Democrats have a real chance to take control of the PA House. Such a victory would be a safeguard against not only a potential Mastriano victory, but also against the GOP’s Constitutional Amendment that would ban abortion. In any case, the balance of the PA House will be tight next term, and we need to do everything that we can to defeat GOP extremists in their hunt for unchecked power in Pennsylvania. On November 8th, if you live in the 96th State House District, you should vote for Mike Sturla.
PA Representative (HD-98): Mark Temons
Mark Temons has been a strong advocate of organized labor, public education, and reproductive freedom—and generally an in-the-trenches fighter for working people. That’s why Lancaster Stands Up members voted overwhelmingly this summer to endorse Temons to represent Northwestern Lancaster County (HD-98) in Harrisburg.
Mark is running on a strong progressive platform that is pro-worker, pro-family, and pro-environment. One of his top priorities is fully funding public education. As a father of two children in the Columbia Borough School District, he knows how underfunded our public schools are here in PA. While Doug Mastriano and the GOP are working hard to defund public schools, Mark is taking a stand in support of the educational opportunities that are only possible through widespread public education. If Mark is elected in November, there is a strong chance his race will help Democrats win a majority in the PA House; he would be a bulwark against attacks on public schools, parents, and children that have infected discourse these last few years.
Temons’ opponent, Tom Jones, is an election-denier local GOP Chair. The choice of who to support in HD-98 is clear. With Mark Temons in the PA House, Lancaster County would not only gain an ally, we would gain a representative who has dedicated years towards organizing in rural PA. We are so excited to support Mark in his run for office, and proud to have yet another member of Lancaster Stands Up fighting for all of us.