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Who is Erin McClelland, a Democrat running for Pa. treasurer?

by Jannelle Andes, Genevieve Hartnett, Alaysia Lane, Bill Meincke, and DJ Waller for Spotlight PA |

Democratic treasurer candidate Erin McClelland
Courtesy candidate Facebook page

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HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters will elect a treasurer this November, but Democrats and Republicans first must pick their candidates this spring.

Erin McClelland is one of two Democrats running for her party’s nomination and will appear on the April 23 primary ballot.

The state treasurer is one of three elected row officers in the commonwealth, and plays a crucial role in managing state dollars. They can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.

Learn more about McClelland below:

Who is Erin McClelland?


A native of Western Pennsylvania, McClelland graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham University.

Her career includes a decade and a half in substance abuse and mental health counseling, project managing, and program directing.

McClelland also worked as a process improvement manager with the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions, and founded Pennsylvania’s first orthomolecular recovery program for addiction.

“I … ran a small business,” McClelland told Spotlight PA. “I’m the only person in the race that had to make a payroll — [that] has been a defining part of my career and how I look at finance and workers, so that’s important to me.”

She later worked as a project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

This isn’t her first time running for office. In 2014 and 2016, McClelland won Democratic primaries in races for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, but lost the general election both times to then-incumbent Republican Keith Rothfus.

On her campaign website, McClelland wrote that being on the ballot alongside Trump in 2016 was instructive and showed her that “the issues of rural and working-class voters [were] ignored by my own party.”

“The 2024 election will test just how committed to good union jobs, economic equality, and global human rights Pennsylvania Democrats really are,” she said in a campaign prospectus.

McClelland has criticized the incumbent treasurer’s support for a Democrat-sponsored bill that would create Keystone Saves, a statewide retirement plan option for employers who otherwise can’t afford to offer one. Pitched as a public-private partnership, it would involve employees contributing to IRA accounts, which would then be managed by a private third-party firm.

While the bill passed the state House this legislative session with bipartisan support — including from Ryan Bizzarro, her Democratic opponent — McClelland calls it the “George W. Bush Great Recession Starter Kit” and says it creates a “privatized, unregulated, self-directed, non-employer sponsored ‘retirement plan.’”

According to her campaign website, McClelland would “protect our workers and our taxpayers from dangerous, unregulated financial products and scam investments like the Keystone Saves program.”

Citing the Biden administration’s 2021 signing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), McClelland argues for strengthening the state treasurer’s contract oversight authority. She would require companies in Pennsylvania to verify their supply chains are free of goods from countries with records of human rights abuses and deny them state contracts if they can’t show they’ve cut ties with these countries.

“Ultimately, I’m excited to talk about all of the things that treasurer can do outside the office, not just inside, there’s so much opportunity there,” she told Spotlight PA.

>>READ MORE: A complete guide to the primary candidates for treasurer

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