Governor-elect Josh Shapiro handpicks Al Schmidt for Secretary of State
The former PA Attorney General is tapping the Republican and chief opponent of former President Donald Trump’s plot to overturn 2020 elections, for the gig.
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Governor-elect Josh Shapiro will officially take office on Jan. 18, replacing Gov. Tom Wolf, who has been at the helm since 2015. The former PA Attorney General is currently putting together a cabinet that he finds best suited to help him lead Pennsylvania, with his first pick being a surprise for many.
Shapiro’s number one pick was Al Schmidt, the longtime Republican election official from Philadelphia and main opponent of former President Donald Trump in his plot to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election, to be Secretary of State.
The Governor-elect made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday, Jan. 5. As the state’s top election official, Schmidt will now run state elections ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.
“Al Schmidt has a proven track record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights, and standing up to extremism – even in the face of grave threats. I know he'll continue the hard work of preserving and strengthening our democracy as my Secretary of the Commonwealth,” Shapiro tweeted.
The Republican was previously a Philly City Commissioner for over 10 years, in charge of city elections.
“I'm humbled by the opportunity to lead Governor-Elect @JoshShapiroPA's work to protect and expand voting rights as his Secretary of the Commonwealth,” Schmidt tweeted. “Our elections are the foundation of our democracy — and we’re going to ensure every eligible voter can make their voice heard.”
During his time, the 2020 presidential election occurred, which included getting targeted and called out by name by then-President Donald Trump in a tweet for defending the results.
He would later testify at a Jan. 6 committee hearing this past June, where he said the former President’s tweet led to threats of violence directed at not only him, but also his family.
"After the president tweeted at me by name — calling me out the way that he did — the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name, but included members of my family, by name, their ages, our address, pictures of our home, just every bit of detail that you can imagine,” Schmidt testified.
Schmidt would leave his post back in early 2022, opting to go and lead the Pennsylvania-based good government group and nonprofit, the Committee of Seventy.
His new role will make Pennsylvania one of the few states in which the governor and chief election officer are not of the same party.
“My job now is to advance the governor’s agenda, and to make sure that every eligible voter is able to register to vote, and every registered voter is able to cast their vote and have their vote counted at the end of the day,” Schmidt said in an interview with POLITICO. “Regardless of party affiliation, there has never been any daylight between anything that I think would strengthen democracy, and the governor-elect’s agenda, as he’s expressed it.”
Shapiro’s nomination goes to the state PA Senate, where two-thirds of the body need to approve it. It should be an easy task considering Republicans have a five-seat majority, and even as of now, Schmidt can serve with an acting title before being confirmed.
To end the week off with a bang, Schmidt was also one of 12 to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday, Jan. 6, to mark the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Along with Schmidt, some of the other honorees include law enforcement officers who were injured that day, as well as one that died.
Created by then-President Richard Nixon back in 1969, the second highest civilian honor after the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Presidential Citizens Medal, is given to those who “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”