HARRISBURG – State attorney general-hopeful Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, doesn't have to respond to his rival's May 2 challenge to "take politics out of the AG’s office" by agreeing to not run for higher office because Shapiro already has said as much, a spokesman for his campaign said.
"This is a political stunt by John Rafferty since Josh has already pledged to serve a full term as attorney general," Joe Radosevich, Shapiro's campaign manager, said in an email interview with the Pennsylvania Record.
"Josh's pledge to Pennsylvanians is to take on the heroin epidemic, protect seniors and consumers from scam artists and fraudulent practices, and work to restore integrity to our justice system to protect everyone fairly."
Rafferty, the Republican candidate, issued a challenge on his campaign website for Shapiro to join with him in agreeing not to run for a higher public office, like governor.
"Today, I challenged my opponent, Josh Shapiro, to join me in pledging to take politics out of the AG’s office by promising not to seek higher office," Rafferty said in his website announcement. "We cannot afford to allow the Office of Attorney General to be used by candidates who simply see it as a stepping-stone for the Governor’s mansion."
The challenge also has been published on the Pennsylvania Republican Party's website.
During the televised Democratic Attorney General Debate on April 7, Shapiro was asked during the speed round of the debate, "Will you run for another elected office in the future if you are elected?" Shapiro answered, "I have no plans to."
At a debate before the League of Women Voters on April 13, Shapiro was asked, "Will you serve out the full four years of your term, or eight if you are blessed or cursed with re-election?"
Shapiro answered, "Yes, of course. I want this job and I want to do it for all four years and hopefully the people of Pennsylvania will bless me with another four after that. Look, I have specifically sought this job because I think it’s the most powerful, most important, most significant job in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania... . This is an awesome responsibility and an incredibly important job, and it’s the one job I want to run for, the one job I hope I earn; and I will certainly pledge to serve all four years.”
The 42-year-old Shapiro, Montgomery County commissioner the past four years and state representative from 2005-2012, bested Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala in the Democratic primaries late last month, in which Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli placed a distant third.
Rafferty, a 63-year-old Montgomery County state senator, beat his nearest rival, former Scranton police officer and federal prosecutor Joe Peters, in the Republican primary with almost 65 percent of the vote.
Both men will face off in the November election to replace the incumbent, Democrat Kathleen G. Kane, who has chosen not to run for a second term. Kane, who faces a trial on charges that she leaked secret grand jury information and then lied about it, has said she decided not to run again because she wanted to spend more time with her family.