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The Republican race for Pennsylvania governor: WPSU talks with Joe Gale

Joe Gale
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Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale is one of the candidates running in the crowded 2022 Republican primary for governor of Pennsylvania.

The Democratic primary for Governor is not competitive in Pennsylvania this year. But eight Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination to be governor. State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman announced Thursday morning that he is dropping out of the race and endorsing candidate Lou Barletta. WPSU invited all the candidates for interviews leading up to the May 17 primary. Here’s the conversation WPSU’s Anne Danahy had with Joe Gale.

Anne Danahy 
Joe Gale, thank you for talking with us.

Joe Gale 
I'm very grateful for this opportunity. Thanks for having me.

Anne Danahy 
You're a Montgomery County commissioner, and you're one of nine candidates in this race. And you all agree on some of the issues. What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates?

Joe Gale 
The difference between me and my opponents is I've never been controlled or influenced by the Republican Party establishment. In my capacity as Montgomery County commissioner, where I'm currently serving my second term, I've never had the support of my own party. And that's what makes me a unique candidate. I've never kissed the rings and played "Mother May I." I bucked the system and had a big upset in my campaign for Montgomery County commissioner, which is the third most populated county in the state. It's larger than five states in population. And I was reelected by a larger margin in 2019. And I take that same concept now in my statewide campaign for governor. And what that gives me the ability to do is to hold my own side accountable, the Republican state legislature, the Republican majority in the state Senate, in the State House, to hold them accountable and actually advance a common sense conservative agenda that Pennsylvania is in desperate need of.

Anne Danahy 
You have been very critical of members of your own party as you yourself note, other Republicans. But if you're going to be effective as governor, you have to be able to bring people together. It's more than pointing out what you see as the wrongdoings of others in the political realm. Do you see yourself as someone who can do that? Who can bring people together even if you don't agree with them on everything?

Joe Gale 
Well take a look at history. The last Republican governor we had was Tom Corbett, who also had a Republican majority in the state Senate and in the state House. And the legacy of the entire corporate administration was giving Pennsylvania the highest gas tax in the whole entire country. Act 89 is infamously known as the Corbett gas tax. And that was their major accomplishment. I think it was a disaster. And it's the single reason why Corbett was unable to get reelected in 2014. And what gave us Tom Wolfe as governor. So Corbett took the strategy of, I'm going to go along to get along, I'm not going to ruffle feathers. I'm gonna give pork barrel spending projects to the state reps and state senators looking for something in their district just to get them in line to support specific legislation. And that got us nowhere. So my philosophy is, we simply need Republicans to do what they're supposed to do. And far too often, we have Republicans that lack a backbone, and particularly here in Pennsylvania, and what I will do is hold my own party accountable. There's various issues such as school choice, I'm a big supporter of school choice. I know going into that scenario, Democrats will not support me, I already know that. But Republicans should support school choice. And when there's weak Republicans that drag their feet and resist school choice, because they're endorsed and funded by the PSEA, the teachers union, and they cater to that union. It's for political expedience, instead of doing what's best for the children and the quality of their education. I'm going to call them out by name, and also support primary challengers against them. And I believe that's the best way to get results — to hold Republicans accountable to supporting the conservative agenda that Pennsylvania needs.

Anne Danahy 
So you mentioned school choice. What would be your priority if you're elected?

Joe Gale 
Well, No. 1 is election reform. As I travel the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it's very clear that citizens across the state have lost faith in the integrity of our election. And that's because of Act 77, which is the unconstitutional mail-in voting law that gave Pennsylvania 50 days of no excuse mail-in voting. That's the longest vote by mail period of time in the entire nation. And this disastrous mail voting law was not only passed unconstitutionally, it was passed unanimously by every single Republican state senator, two of which are running for governor. One is the president of the state Senate, Jake Corman and the other is a state senator from Franklin County named Doug Mastriano. And it's my belief that any candidate, anyone that voted for that disastrous law should be disqualified from holding any office, let alone being promoted to a higher office. And I believe Act 77 is the most scandalous piece of legislation to ever come out of Harrisburg. It's worse than the midnight pay raise in 2005, when our elected officials raised their salary in the middle of the night. The fact that this was done pre-pandemic — it had nothing to do with the Coronavirus — unconstitutionally, and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court had a ruling in February declaring that — is really unacceptable. And it absolutely destroyed the integrity of our elections.

Anne Danahy 
Well, there's been no…

Joe Gale 
As the next governor, I would repeal Act 77 and then also push forward election reform where we need to restore traditional absentee ballots that required a valid excuse. A shorter window of time. None of this 50 days of mail-in voting. And also we need voter ID.

Anne Danahy 
There's been no evidence of any widespread voter fraud. And what would you say to the voters, and I'm thinking in particular of older voters who during the pandemic were able to vote easily by mail or by dropping their ballots off —

Joe Gale 
How can you, how can you claim there's been no evidence of voter fraud —

Anne Danahy 
widespread voter fraud …

Joe Gale 
We've had four elections — excuse me — four elections in Pennsylvania, the primary and general of 2020, and the primary and general of 2021, conducted under unconstitutional voting guidelines that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has declared. That is a, that is fraud itself.

Anne Danahy 
That's subject to appeal.

Joe Gale 
The fact that we're conduction elections under unconstitutional laws is not right.

Anne Danahy 
You were censured by the commissioners you serve with in 2020, for calling Black Lives Matter a hate group. Do you see yourself as divisive? Or do you see yourself as someone you can work with people you might not agree with?

Joe Gale 
I see someone that is able to get results because I have the ability to hold my own side accountable.

Anne Danahy 
Do you think you can work across the aisle?

Joe Gale 
If they're willing to work with me — absolutely. But if they're too worried about catering to campaign donors, or special interest groups, labor trade unions, teacher unions, public sector unions, lobbyists, instead of doing what's right for the families and taxpayers of Pennsylvania, then I'm going to call these type of individuals out by name and support primary challengers against them. And I don't care if they're of either party affiliation.

Anne Danahy 
We have a few seconds left. Is there anything else you'd like to say to voters?

Joe Gale 
I would just tell the voters that in 2022, there's an opportunity to change course. I know there's many Pennsylvanians that are frustrated with draconian lockdowns and shutdowns and mandates, and we have an opportunity to advance a common sense conservative agenda. But I need to be the Republican nominee for governor to actually win the general election and 2022. I have the geographic advantage of being a two term Montgomery County Commissioner in a highly populated area, which happens to be the same home county as the Democrat nominee, Josh Shapiro. And that gives me an advantage because of the personal relationships and name recognition that I developed in his home turf, to have a successful general election. And I encouraged Republican primary voters across Pennsylvania to vote Joe Gale for governor on May 17. So I can be the nominee that will deliver results and also win the general election in November.

Anne Danahy 
Joe Gale, thank you for talking with us.

Joe Gale 
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

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