by Lowman S. Henry | April 09, 2024

An interesting juxtaposition is taking place relative to two of Pennsylvania’s most high profile elected officials: Governor Josh Shapiro and U.S. Senator John Fetterman. Fetterman was elected in 2022 as a darling of his party’s Left wing, while Shapiro campaigned as a pragmatist and proudly boasts about getting stuff done.

Conventional wisdom, which typically proves to be unwise, held that once in the U.S. Senate John Fetterman would so far to the Left he would make Bernie Sanders look like Ted Cruz. Fetterman, however, appears to be as comfortable charting his own course as he is wearing hoodies and gym shorts.

The far-Left wing of the Democrat Party, which is to say almost all of it, is going bat crap crazy over Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorists who executed a brutal slaughter of its citizens last October. President Biden has attempted to straddle the fence on the issue, but Fetterman has been an unabashed defender of Israel and a proponent of its right to self-defense.

Illegal immigration has surged to the top of voter concerns as fentanyl deaths skyrocket, crimes committed by illegals grab headlines, and the cost to taxpayers mount. Biden Administration policies are responsible for the debacle, but the President shows no signs of doing anything other than attempting to blame Republicans for the problem. Fetterman has spoken out in favor of more stringent border controls taking a pragmatic approach to the issue.

Most recently Fetterman has strayed from party dogma on so-called “squatters rights.” In the wake of the flood of people coming over the southern border a rising number of illegal immigrants are simply occupying the homes and apartments owned by U.S. citizens. The Left thinks squatters have rights, which is absurd on its face. Fetterman appeared so annoyed by criticism of his support of the rights of actual property owners he declared himself to not be “woke.”

To be sure Fetterman is unlikely to be seen dining with the House Freedom Caucus at any point in the near future, but he thus far has not been a doctrinaire progressive. How that will play out politically remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Governor Josh Shapiro, the self-proclaimed pragmatist, has taken a lurch to the Left – the far Left – in an apparent bid to position himself as an attractive national candidate and appeal to his party’s California style donors. How that will play politically among the more centrist voters of Penn’s Woods also remains to be seen.

Fealty to a radical environmental agenda to fight what the Left believes to be man-made climate change is mandatory for those who aspire to national political office on the Democrat ticket. In a bow to the extremists Shapiro uncorked a radical cap and tax energy plan that, if enacted, would dramatically increase energy prices, chase manufacturing from the state, and imperil the dependability of the energy grid.

Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s largest generators of electrical power. We also sit atop one of the richest natural gas deposits in the world. Yet Shapiro’s energy plan would require dependence on alternate fuels, two categories of which have yet to be invented. The plan is completely unworkable yet serves as catnip to his party’s radical greens.

Shapiro has also tacked Left on illegal immigration. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been deploying his National Guard to defend the border. Numerous other states have activated National Guard units and sent them to Texas. Republicans in the Pennsylvania State Senate approved a resolution calling on Shapiro to join the effort by sending Pennsylvania National Guard troops to assist Texas. Although polls show illegal immigration is the top national concern, Shapiro instead bowed to the radical Left and nixed the plan.

Most recently Shapiro made it impossible for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania trades workers to participate in state construction projects unless they are members of a labor union. He issued an executive order requiring Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for all state funded construction projects.

According to the Commonwealth Foundation more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania’s construction workers work in non-union or merit shops. The governor’s order effectively discriminates against those workers but represents a substantial payback to the labor unions whose financial contributions powered his past – and likely future – election campaigns.

What to make of all this? Fetterman is moving to the center, where most statewide politicians find electoral success. Shapiro is moving to the Left, where most national Democrat politicians find success. Of course, Shapiro must stand for re-election as Governor in 2026 before moving on to the national stage. The question is: has he put the cart before the horse?

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly American Radio Journal and Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)

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