Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale and a handful of other Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial hopefuls took to the debate stage Wednesday night at Dickinson College in Carlisle. Topics discussed by a field of 13 candidates ranged from the handling of Covid-19 to election integrity, energy production, and the economy.
Commissioner Joe Gale declared himself to be the obvious conservative choice to be the next governor, doing so boldly. Gale mentioned that he is the only GOP candidate who can beat the presumptive Democratic nominee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Both Shapiro and Gale hail from Montgomery County and served together as commissioners for a period of time.
The Montco Commissioner took a strong stance against Governor Tom Wolf’s handling of the pandemic, calling it “a totalitarian, nanny state” approach. Gale instead articulated the need to focus on protecting senior citizens, while simultaneously loosening restrictions and abolishing mandates.
On the topic of energy, Gale mentioned that Pennsylvania has the nation’s third highest gas tax behind deep-blue California and Illinois. He also mentioned that in a state as resource rich as Pennsylvania, energy costs should not be skyrocketing as high as they currently are. In some PA regions, energy prices have spiked upwards of 50% this winter.
Gale assailed Wolf’s Republican predecessor, Tom Corbett, as well as the GOP controlled legislature over high gas taxes. “That gas tax was given to us with a Republican governor and Republican majority in the state senate and the state house,” Gale said. “The infamous Corbett gas tax.”
“That revenue collected was supposed to go towards fixing our roads. And I travel all across the roads of Pennsylvania meeting with the people, and we must have the worst roads in the entire country,” Gale continued. “Something is seriously wrong there. We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a cost problem.”
The topic of law and order was sure to come up in this debate and inevitably did. Crime is very fresh in the minds of Pennsylvanians, as Philadelphia just surpassed a grisly benchmark of 562 homicides in 2021, an all-time record. Gale reiterated his support for law enforcement and touted his hard stance against the Black Lives Matter extremist organization. BLM protesters descended upon Gale’s private home after he called out violent rioting in June 2020.
“Public safety and law and order is a key component to job growth, and I will make sure that happens as your next governor,” Gale said on the topic.
Gale used the debate platform to argue that he would use the governorship as a “bully pulpit” to hold Republican legislators accountable. He was very critical of PA House and Senate Republicans, namely for their approval of Act 77, which allowed a 50 day no-excuse period for mail-in voting.
Gale attributes this to the record low trust in elections among many Americans in general, but especially in Pennsylvania. He voted “no” to certifying Montgomery County’s elections in 2020, citing mail-in ballot concerns.
Gale has positioned himself a GOP outsider seeking to hold elected officials accountable to voters. He ran unendorsed by the state GOP, who instead endorsed a candidate who had made contributions to Planned Parenthood. “I will be a Pitbull in Harrisburg and hold the Republicans accountable to get the job done,” Gale said.
The primary is set for May 17, 2022.