Governor-elect Josh Shapiro will officially take office on January 18, succeeding Governor Tom Wolf, who has been in charge since 2015. The first choice came as a surprise to many.
Shapiro’s number one pick was Al Schmidt, a veteran Philadelphia Republican election official and a prominent opponent of former President Donald Trump who plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, to be secretary of state.
The newly elected governor made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday, January 5. As the state’s top elections official, Schmidt will now lead the state’s elections ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
“Al Schmidt has a proven record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights, and fighting extremism, even in the face of grave threats. I know he will continue to serve as my Secretary of the Commonwealth. Will continue working hard to preserve & strengthen democracy,” Shapiro tweeted.
The Republican had previously been Philadelphia city commissioner for more than 10 years, in charge of city elections.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead @JoshShapiroPA’s work to protect and expand voting rights as his Secretary of the Commonwealth,” Schmidt tweeted. “Our elections are the foundation of our democracy – and we will make sure every eligible voter can make their voice heard.”
During his time there, the 2020 presidential election took place, in which he was singled out and called upon by then-President Donald Trump in a tweet to defend the results.
He would later testify at a committee hearing last June 6, where he said not only he but his family received threats of violence from the former president’s tweets.
“After the president’s tweet calling me names, the threats became more specific, more graphic, and included not only my name, but members of my family, names, their ages, our address, pictures of our house, every detail. were involved. You can imagine,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt will leave his position in early 2022 to lead the Committee of the Seventy, a Pennsylvania-based good governance and non-profit group.
His new role will make Pennsylvania one of the few states where the governor and chief elector are not from the same party.
“My job now is to advance the governor’s agenda and make sure that all eligible voters can register to vote, and that all registered voters can cast their ballot and that their vote is counted at the end of the day.” ,” They said. An interview with Politico. “Regardless of party affiliation, I think there has never been the light of day between anything that strengthens democracy and the governor-elect’s agenda as he has put it.”
Shapiro’s nomination goes to the PA State Senate, where two-thirds of the body must approve it. That should be an easy task considering Republicans have a five-seat majority, and so far, can operate with an acting title before Schmidt is confirmed.
To end the week on a high note, Schmidt was one of 12 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Joe Biden at the White House on Jan. 6, the second anniversary of the attack against the Capitol.
Along with Schmidt, other honorees include law enforcement officers who were injured that day, as well as one who died.
Created in 1969 by then-President Richard Nixon, the Presidential Civilian Medal, the second highest civilian award after the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is awarded to those who have “done exemplary work for their country or fellow citizens.”