The race for Treasurer goes to television.
Treasurer Joe Torsella’s opening TV ad for his reelection campaign touts some of the changes he’s brought to an office that has previously been plagued by corruption in the state.
“Three of Pennsylvania’s past five state Treasurers were indicted for corruption,” a voiceover begins in the 30 second spot, “Leading By Example.” “So Joe Torsella did things differently.”
“Torsella refused a pension, he refused a state car, and rejected reimbursement for meals,” the ad continues. “Torsella gave every dime of the pay raise to charity, then Torsella got national praise for opening up to the public how state governments spend our money.”
“It’s hard to change Harrisburg,” the voice says to complete the ad. “Joe Torsella leads by example.”
Stacy Garrity, an Iraq War veteran and businesswoman, who is the GOP candidate in the race doesn’t think Torsella has led the office with the integrity he claims in the ad and describes him as “just another career politician.”
“If Torsella is judging his performance by not going to jail, that’s a pretty low bar,” said Nachama Soloveichik, Garrity campaign spokesperson. “His transparency efforts have received a grade of C and D- from the US Public Interest Research Group – not exactly something to boast about. And under his leadership, Pennsylvania’s pensions funds have given billions in secret fees to Wall Street investment banks.”
The US Public Interest Research Group, or known as U.S. PIRG, was founded in the 1980s and describes itself as “an advocate for the public interest” that “speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good.”
A 2018 US PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group analysis on providing online access to government spending data provided Pennsylvania with a “C” grade, placing the state 30th in the nation. A 2019 US PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group report on comparing the state’s economic development transparency provided Pennsylvania with a “D-” grade, placing the state tied for 32nd place with New York.
Recent polling shows that Torsella has the advantage in his reelection bid. A Monmouth University poll showed Torsella leading Garrity by by 6 points, 47-to-41, among registered voters in the state in the race for Treasurer, while 10% are undecided. Torsella holds a 5 point lead over Garrity, 47-to-42, among likely voters in Monmouth’s high turnout model. Torsella’s lead over Garrity shrinks to 4 points, 47-to-43, among likely voters in Monmouth’s low turnout model.
Torsella defeated Republican Otto Voit by 6 points in the 2016 election for the open Treasurer seat.