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Josh Shapiro speaking at a press conference in Philadelphia on Aug. 31, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn students recently started their own chapter of Students for Shapiro in anticipation of November's midterm elections. 

The group is part of a national organization that supports Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his running mate, Rep. Austin Davis, in their campaign for Pennsylvania governor and lieutenant governor. College senior Annie Hait and College sophomore Sam Singer, the chapter's directors, worked with Josh Shapiro’s daughter Sophia Shapiro — who started the first branch at the University of Pittsburgh — to bring the organization to Penn. 

Students for Shapiro is now an affiliate group of Penn Democrats and has amassed over 60 members since the start of the semester, including interns on Shapiro’s campaign team. 

“It’s been a lot of work, but we’ve accomplished a lot, and I’m really excited to see what else comes with this term,” Hait said. 

Hait credits Shapiro for his involvement in several lawsuits against President Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. 

“We saw a litany of lawsuits against Trump come out of Pennsylvania, many of which were led by Attorney General Shapiro,” Hait said. “I think that’s how I first learned about [Shapiro’s] name and who he was.”

She added that she appreciates Shapiro’s campaign for its balance between targeting “hot topic” social issues, such as a woman’s right to choose, gun control, and LGBTQ rights, and policies that are discussed less in current state politics, such as education and public safety.

“Attorney General Shapiro is someone who is willing to fight for our rights, especially in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where it is so important that our vote counts and matters,” Hait said. 

College junior Kylie Blitzer currently serves as the group's communications director. As an intern on Shapiro’s campaign, Blitzer said she works chiefly on finance and fundraising efforts in the office. She noted that she supports Shapiro's campaign because she believes Shapiro’s goals — including ensuring abortion rights and voting rights — align with issues that are important to her.

Blitzer said that the group’s main objective is spreading Shapiro’s platform and message across Penn’s campus. Students for Shapiro hosted their first event with Davis, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, on Sept. 9.

Blitzer added that the group also hopes to spread awareness about the importance of the upcoming election. 

“A big issue that we realize is happening right now is people may not be completely aware of how important this election is,” Blitzer said. “Pennsylvania is a swing state, so its race is always going to be close, no matter who the candidates are. The issues on the ballot are incredibly important, and are going to decide the fate of Pa. for years to come.”

While College senior Ruthanne Thongkai is not affiliated with the student group, she works as a communications intern for Shapiro’s campaign. She said she is especially concerned about the fate of abortion rights following this election. 

Thongkai said she believes that the Republican-dominated Pennsylvania legislature will continue to send bills outlawing abortion to the governor’s office, and she hopes to see Shapiro in office to strike these bills down.

“There will be so much on the next governor’s desk that he will get to decide, whether it’s Josh or Doug,” Thongkai said. “These are the people that we have to live under in the foreseeable future, so we should be able to get our voice out there, get our voice heard, and vote for the people whose leadership we want to see.”

Shapiro will face Republican candidate Sen. Doug Mastriano in the race for governor on Nov. 8.