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Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro sworn in, offers message of ‘real freedom,’ rejection of extremism

Josh Shapiro is sworn in as Pennsylvania's 48th governor on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP
Josh Shapiro is sworn in as Pennsylvania's 48th governor on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(WITF) - After being sworn in as the 48th governor of Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro said voters chose him as a bipartisan embrace of progressive politics over extremist ideas.

“You also sent a clear message — Democrats, Republicans and independents — when you came together to resoundingly reject extremism here in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.

The former two-term Pennsylvania attorney general defeated Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano with about 56 percent of the vote.

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Debra Todd swore Shapiro, 49, into office Tuesday afternoon. In his speech, Shapiro, who is Pennsylvania’s third Jewish governor, said he placed his hand “on a bible from the Tree of Life synagogue, the scene just four years ago of the deadliest act of antisemitism in our nation’s history.”

Shapiro’s speech was peppered with references to challenges he took on during his two terms as Pennsylvania attorney general, such as the opioid crisis and the Catholic church sex abuse scandal.

“Your stories and your courage have stayed with me, and they will motivate me each and every day as your governor,” Shapiro said. “Because ultimately, in a functioning democracy, it’s your voices that should be heard in the halls of government.”

Shapiro also offered his vision of “real freedom” — policy positions such as funding schools and public safety, job creation and environmental protection. “Where everyone gets a shot and no one is left behind, that is real freedom,” Shapiro said. “That is our challenge. That is our calling.”

Four former governors were in attendance — Democrats Tom Wolf and Mark Schweiker and Republicans Tom Corbett and Tom Ridge. Both U.S. senators — Democrats Bob Casey, Jr. and John Fetterman — were also present.

“I’m pleased to be joined by the legislative leaders and legislators of both parties,” Shapiro said, name-dropping Republican and Democratic leaders of the Republican-controlled state Senate and the state House, which has a Democratic speaker but is close to being deadlocked.

Now, the new governor known for making bipartisan deals when was a Montgomery County commissioner and a state Representative must walk a balance between progressive policy positions such as abortion rights and gun control — both referenced in his speech — and a divided state legislature still getting its footing.

Shapiro has signaled some bipartisanship in his cabinet picks, most prominently with former state senate appropriations chair, Republican Pat Browne, tapped to head the Department of Revenue. In his speech, Shapiro said he set out to choose a team that “looks like Pennsylvania, and reflects the people and the communities that I just took an oath to serve and protect.”

Copyright 2023 WITF.