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Mapping donors in the governor's race, key mail ballot ruling vacated, and a 'slow-motion schism'

Plus, lawsuit improves court records access in York County.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 12, 2022
Donor guides, SCOTUS speaks, records requests, slow schism, cannabis convictions, Delaware dibs, and 100 cars underwater. It's Wednesday.

Out-of-state donors and political action committees are spending huge amounts of money on Pennsylvania's race for governor, much of it in support of the Democratic nominee, a new Spotlight PA analysis shows.

Between January of 2021 and mid-September of this year, candidate Josh Shapiro, the state's attorney general, raised just under $51 million for his gubernatorial bid — roughly $25 million of it from other states.

The Republican nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County, raised just under $5 million in the same time period, the vast majority of which — just over $3 million — came from donors in Pennsylvania.

See for yourself: Four maps show where Pa. governor candidates Mastriano, Shapiro are getting big cash.

THE CONTEXT: More than seven in eight of Mastriano's individual donors live here (many around his home base of Franklin County), while about a third of his campaign funds came from other states. 

This includes a $1 million donation from Illinois conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth.

But while Mastriano's campaign may boast a higher percentage of in-state donors and money, Shapiro has a wide advantage in raw totals.

Shapiro has more than three times as many in-state donors as Mastriano — roughly 23,600 to 7,300 — and has raised almost eight times as much money from them — $24.5 million to Mastriano's $3.1 million.

And that matters as the Nov. 8 election draws nearer because it means more money to spend on ads, staffing, and voter outreach.


"The District Attorney's Office strongly disagrees on many levels with the court's decision today in this matter and will be reviewing our options..."

—Jane Roh, of Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner's office, on a judge's decision to drop murder and other charges filed against Ryan Pownall, a former city cop accused of fatally shooting a Black man in the back as he fled
Read our complete coverage, plus key dates, campaign finance data, sample ballots & more at our Election Center 2022 website.

Spotlight on the Issues: Where Mastriano and Shapiro stand on:

»  College Funding & Student Debt
»  Energy & Environment
»  Crime & Justice
»  LGTBQ Rights

More issue analyses will be published in the coming weeks. 

A complete listing of Spotlight PA voter guides:  

»  Everything you need to know about mail ballots
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  No constitutional amendments on the ballot, but big ones loom
»  How to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 8
»  These Pa. voters haven't missed a Nov. election for 50+ years
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election

En Español:

»  Una guía básica para investigar a los candidatos
»  Cómo trabajar como trabajador electoral el 8 de noviembre
»  Todo lo que necesita saber para votar por correo
»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» CAPITAL-STAR: Pa. officials anticipate 'days' of ballot counting
» PENNLIVE: Mastriano's NJ hometown remembers him well (paywall)
» THE HILL: Anti-Trump GOP group spends big to defeat Mastriano
» WGAL: Legislative races could impact constitutional amendment push
» WITF: What Pa.'s latest voter registration data says about the midterms

» GOVERNOR'S GUIDE LIVE: On Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. via Zoom, Spotlight PA is hosting a free panel on who the candidates for governor are and how their administrations would impact you. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

The remnants of an old barn at the Tyler Arboretum in Delaware County, via Don N. Have an interesting image to share? Send us your photos and art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
RULING REVERSAL: A federal court ruling that allowed undated mail ballots to be counted in Pennsylvania has been vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Reuters reports the high court sided with David Ritter, who lost his 2021 bid for a Lehigh County judgeship to a Democratic rival by five votes after 257 absentee ballots without dates were counted. Pennsylvania's chief election official says counties should still count undated and misdated mail ballots. More legal action is likely.

PUBLIC ACCESS: York County has agreed to improve public access to criminal court records to settle a First Amendment lawsuit brought by Spotlight PA and four other Pennsylvania newsrooms. The newsrooms argued that York County Clerk of Courts Daniel J. Byrnes improperly shut down free, easy access to criminal court records and instituted practices and policies that slowed the release of documents.

CHURCH SCHISM: A "slow-motion schism" that's breaking up the United Methodist Church runs through Pennsylvania, the AP reports. Debates over sexuality and theology have preceded the formal and informal disaffiliations of hundreds of U.S. congregations, and the AP says about 300 of the 800 United Methodist-affiliated churches in western Pennsylvania could follow suit as soon as next year.

PARDON ZONES: Gov. Tom Wolf's Marijuana Pardon Project received 3,539 applications from people with low-level, nonviolent cannabis convictions. Axios shows where most of the applications came from and explains what happens next. The highest number of requests came from Dauphin County, where state data showed Black people were disproportionately charged with such offenses in 2021.

LOST MONEY: Pennsylvania is one of 30 states suing Delaware over its taking of idle MoneyGram funds. The Inquirer (paywall) reports abandoned funds are supposed to go to states where the owners last lived. But without good records, Delaware became the default, and Pennsylvania says it missed out on millions. The case, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, could upend Delaware's revenue streams.

DAY CARE TRIAGE: Two dozen people, most of them children, were hospitalized following a carbon monoxide leak at an Allentown child care center on Tuesday, Lehigh Valley Live reports. In Pennsylvania, carbon monoxide detectors aren't currently required for day cares.

REALITY TV: A limited-run TV series based on this article about Timothy Piazza's hazing death at Penn State is being developed by Hulu. "It's a hard look at a terrible tragedy," producer Robert Greenblatt told THR.

SEARCH AREA: In the process of recovering the car and body of a missing Butler County man, Pittsburgh investigators located 100 cars in the city's rivers, with organized crime a possible reason, per WPXI.

PROFANE PHILLY: A language learning app says Philadelphia residents swear an average of 25 times a day, the fourth highest city total in the nation, via Patch. That reminds us: Pennsylvania's favorite curse word is...

TREE LINE: This year's White House Christmas tree is coming from Pennsylvania — Evergreen Acres in Schuylkill County, to be exact. It's the 11th White House Christmas tree to come from here, per WFMZ.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Syndrome

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Wendy A., Michelle T., Becky C., Barbara F., Irene R., John P., Elaine C., Kimberly D., Don H., Susan D., Karen W., Daniel M., Jane R., John F., James B., George S., Dianne K., Bill S., Susan N.-Z., Starr B., Kim C., Stanley J., and David W.
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