Pennsylvania Attorney General Race: Shapiro Versus Heidelbaugh
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro calls himself “the people’s AG.” His opponent Heather Heidelbaugh calls herself “a lawyer’s lawyer.”
The presidential election isn’t the only race featuring two very distinct candidates. Montgomery County Democrat Shapiro has one clear goal: fight for the people. He’s become a national foe to President Trump and his administration by initiating battles over issues like birth-control coverage limits, suing for-profit universities for predatory lending and attacking the Catholic Church for its child sex abuse scandals.
But Mt. Lebanon lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh doesn’t believe these actions are appropriate for an AG. The Republican doesn’t advocate for “being the person suing” and instead would focus on defending in civil court and prosecuting criminal cases.
Shapiro, who has spent most of his career in public office, gained national attention in 2019 when he prevented western Pennsylvania health giants UPMC and Highmark from ending business ties in an attempt to increase prices and provide less services. He’s fought to place the vulnerable above higher institutions.
“We want to protect our dreamers and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” Shapiro said. “Time and time again, we’ve won because [the White House and businesses] have broken the law.
Heidelbaugh wants a more conservative role and hopes to organize a “lawyer’s office” rather than the “political office” that she claims her opponent runs. She believes that Shapiro is eyeing attention and a political gain by creating new departments that protect the environment and labor rights.
A partner at Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, Heidelbaugh has litigated a vast range of cases throughout her 36-year career and served on the Allegheny County Council from 2012 to 2016.
From her experience, she doesn’t believe that Shapiro’s lawsuit regarding loss in birth control did any good, saying that women could still pay for coverage themselves or request it through an organization. She also said she would remain less aggressive even if Joe Biden is elected president. She’s even criticized Trump on Twitter, saying her role as AG doesn’t rely on her party.
Shapiro feels a similar way. He says he is much less worried about who might be President and much more worried about his job.
“Whoever is our next President, they need to know I won’t let them violate the laws of our commonwealth or undermine the rights of our citizens,” Shapiro said.
A big concern among undecided voters comes from speculation that Shapiro could run for Pennsylvania Governor in 2022. He hasn’t denied the rumors, and he’s even hinted that he could eventually enter himself into a Presidential race. His $4.8 million in campaign funding, compared to less than $500,000 for Heidelbaugh, says career politician, not lawyer.
His popularity in the public eye speaks volumes as well, originating from a 2018 grand jury report documenting hundreds of “predator priests,” which saw 20 other states challenge the Catholic Church.
But Heidelbaugh remarked that the report avoided the system and instead targeted two members of the clergy. And she believes that other issues are more prominent and more practical to attack, like Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic and poorly-treated crime victims.
Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.