2022 Pennsylvania governor primary: Republican Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner, aims to disrupt the status quo

Of the Republican candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania, none is more uncompromisingly willing to stir the pot than Joe Gale. The primary is on Tuesday.

Gale, 32, a Montgomery County commissioner, began his political career by defeating the GOP-backed candidate for the position in 2015. He has announced his victory as the first without the support of the county party. Gale was also 26 at the time, making him the youngest county commissioner elected.

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Gale’s tenure, the only Republican to serve on the board since 2016, has been largely defined by controversy.

He called Black Lives Matter a “radical leftist hate group” and “perpetrators of this urban domestic terror” amid protests in Philadelphia following the 2020 killing of George Floyd.

He described Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 restrictions as “outrageously un-American” and clashed with the other county commissioners over mask-wearing. Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh even went so far as to call Gale a racist after he was reprimanded by the Board of Commissions.

After the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol, Gale claimed there were double standards for left-wing and right-wing violence.

Gale is an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump. He claims he was the first elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse the former president and has attempted to portray himself as a conservative maverick who could disrupt the status quo through a platform of “patriotic populism.”

Gale’s platform, which he describes as a “healthy conservative” agenda, includes various electoral reform measures. He wants to scrap the state’s no-excuse voting mail law, mandate photo ID requirements in elections, and restore traditional mail-in ballots that require an apology and signature.

He is also trying to reform property taxes and pensions for state employees and privatize the state’s alcohol system. In any case, he does not advocate abortion.

Gale has tried to emulate Trump’s bombastic style in his criticism of his opponents. He has targeted Senator Doug Mastriano and former US Rep. Lou Barletta, saying they cannot defeat likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro.

Gale has attacked Mastriano for voting absentee voting in 2019, calling him a “puppet candidate” under the control of the GOP establishment. He calls Barletta “a proven loser.”

Gale has stressed that his familiarity with Shapiro would give the GOP the best shot at winning the governor’s race this fall. Gale and Shapiro were both county commissioners before Shapiro became attorney general in 2017.

Gale has pledged to hold members of both political parties accountable and back the GOP’s key challengers against Republicans who don’t match his conservative ideals.

Gale’s younger brother Sean is running for the US Senate in Pennsylvania.

Gale earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University, where he majored in finance and real estate.

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