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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks with students at Clark Park on Oct. 29, 2022. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke to Penn students about his gubernatorial campaign at an event near campus over the weekend.

More than 75 students gathered in Clark Park on Oct. 29 to listen to Shapiro speak at the event about the importance of the upcoming midterm elections and his focus on more restrictive gun legislation, accessible election reforms, and securing reproductive rights. The event, which was marketed as a "Darty for Democracy," was cohosted by Penn Students for Shapiro and Penn Democrats

Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts introduced Shapiro at the event. She thanked all of the students in attendance for “playing an important role in democracy.” Watts encouraged students to continue their efforts ahead of the election. 

“Every text you send, every door you knock on, every call you make between now and Election Day makes a difference,” Watts said during the event. “Our safety, our rights, our freedoms are all on the ballot on November 8th. You have the power to make a difference and the responsibility to do this work.”

Shapiro entered the event by running toward the crowd, who greeted him with a wave of cheers and applause. He began by thanking the students in attendance for their participation in democracy and support in the upcoming election, specifically for helping “lead the way on two of the most important issues of our time,” which he said were climate change and gun laws. 

Shapiro continued by outlining the fundamental aspects of his campaign.

“We are going to work together to protect our fundamental freedoms, most especially a woman’s right to choose. Your right to vote is going to be protected," Shapiro said to the crowd. "You all are doing the work necessary to ensure that happens.” 

He also assured students that their voices will be heard if he is elected. 

“Gen Z is going to be at the table. You’re not just at the table helping me get elected, you’re going to be at the table when it comes time to govern,” he said. 

Shapiro also expressed his gratitude for the Penn Students for Shapiro chapter which has amassed over 60 members since the start of the semester, led by College senior Annie Hait and College sophomore Sam Singer.

College sophomore and Penn Dems member Michael Marcus said that while this isn’t a national election, the gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania is important because “the political atmosphere in Pennsylvania can influence the fate of the rest of the country.”

“In a state like Pennsylvania where the legislature is majority conservative, filled with state legislators who are in favor of reducing reproductive rights, I think it’s so important to have a governor like Josh Shapiro who would fight to defend those rights, Marcus told The Daily Pennsylvanian.  

College senior and Penn for Shapiro member Henry Katz said that he came to the event to support Shapiro, as he agrees with Shapiro on protecting women’s rights, voter integrity, and addressing climate change. Katz emphasized that he hopes his peers understand the importance of this election. 

“The Pennsylvania governor has a lot of power over the state and can make a lot of quick changes that will impact our lives as students,” Katz said. 

Shapiro concluded the event by thanking the students again and encouraging them to keep advocating for causes they believe in.

“You got a powerful, powerful voice, and we need you to use it,” Shapiro said at the event. “And from the bottom of my heart, I just want to tell you how unbelievably grateful I am for all of your help. And together, we're going to defend our democracy, protect our freedoms, and get a whole lot of work done together.”