In PA’s tight attorney general race, Republican candidate John Rafferty has picked up numerous police endorsements, including the influential Pennsylvania State Troopers Association. He expected to get one more – that of Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police, one of the largest in the state.
But it looks like his Democratic opponent, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, just snatched that endorsement away from him.
“Josh is the guy who officers on the beat, and the citizens we serve, trust to keep our communities safe,” said John McNesby, President of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, in an email.
McNesby has slammed some Democrats for their support of softer police tactics in the wake of high-profile killings of cops in other big cities. He notably criticized Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Convention organizers for not prominently featuring the families of slain police at the DNC.
But McNesby has changed his tune for Shapiro – who supports police and criminal justice reforms – because of the Montgomery County commissioner’s pledge to take illegal guns off the street and battle the heroin epidemic.
Rafferty’s campaign downplayed the significance of the nod, noting that the Montgomery County state senator had scored similar endorsements from the Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County Lodges.
“Josh Shapiro is very excited that he got one lodge,” said Rafferty spokesman Mike Barley. “Did Josh expect to get every labor endorsement? Because we got a lot of those.”
Speaking of, sources are saying that Shapiro has been getting an assist on that end from a higher power – namely, Gov. Tom Wolf.
At the very least, Wolf contacted Ryan Boyer, the head of Philly’s Laborers Local 332 and a longtime friend of Rafferty. Boyer said he had earlier been approached by the Republican seeking support for his AG run.
“We talked about supporting Shapiro,” Boyer recalled, of his phone conversation with the governor. “But he didn’t really have to call. We’re behind Josh 110 percent.”
Wolf’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.