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Who Will Lead the PA Democratic Party?


At a time when Pennsylvania Democrats are coalescing behind gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, a fight for leadership within the group has spilled into the open.

With current chair Nancy Patton Mills not seeking another four-year term, vice chair Sharif Street has been campaigning for the top position.

He has encountered some resistance, as Shapiro is urging State Committee members to vote for Gerald Lawrence, chair of the Democrats’ Southeast Caucus that is made up of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh and Montgomery Counties.

“We believe that the leadership required now must come from someone who can focus entirely on the task at hand,” said Shapiro in the email. “For that reason, we’ve made it clear for months that our state party should not be led by an elected official who must juggle competing priorities in facing re-election, serving their constituents, maintaining their own political relationships, and putting their own ambition ahead of what our party needs.”

Shapiro also said that Lawrence was the only candidate “putting our party’s success ahead of self-interest, and putting in the hard work.” As there are only two candidates for the position – Street and Lawrence – that was clearly aimed directly at Street.

Lawrence, who has served as a State Committee member for 25 years, gave $25,000 to Shapiro for PA in December. He has been a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention five times, including in 2020, and is both legal counsel to and Caucus Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. Since 2016, he has served as one of nine members of the Pennsylvania Judicial Advisory Commission by commission of Governor Tom Wolf.

“My conversations with Democrats across the state convinced me to run for chair, and their widespread and overwhelming support has been inspiring,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Street, who represents North Philadelphia, Nicetown, Roxborough, Lower Germantown, Logan, Olney, Fern Rock, Crescentville, East Oak Lane, East Wyoming, East Hunting Park and Melrose Park Garden, backed Conor Lamb over John Fetterman in the Democrats’ U.S. Senate primary.

The Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee meets on June 18.

14 Responses

  1. Democrats need to speak to white middle class especially in W PA. All counties except Allegheny have turned red. Shapiro won’t win by shaming the Church and pushing the pro choice agenda

  2. Democrats need to speak to the white middle class, especially here in W PA, all counties except Allegheny have turned red. Shapiro won’t win here just campaigning by shaming the Church and touting pro-choice

  3. As a rural Pennsylvania voter, I’d like to see a candidate who cares about rural issues. Both Sharif Street and Gerald Lawrence are from the Philadelphia/Southeast PA area. But only one of them has visited my part of the state many times. That’s Sharif Street. The Democratic Party is losing more and more voters in rural areas, in part because people think it’s a big city party that doesn’t care about the demise of our small towns. We have food deserts. Our internet coverage is lousy. People resent teachers and government workers because they earn more than minimum wage. Does Jerry Lawrence care? Rural Democrats want to know. Oh, and is Lawrence giving up his law practice to run the party, so that it is his only focus?

  4. You know who should lead the Democratic Party in PA? Anyone who would not let a candidate through a primary uncontested and give the voters of the state a CHOICE!!! The party with the word “democracy” as the root of it’s name couldn’t be bothered to field candidates for the highest office in Pennsylvania government. Who is going to take any choice of Shapiro seriously? Between Shapiro and Mastriano, it may be time to consider dissolving PA government and save ourselves the four years of torment.

    1. Feel better after your rage post? (Which makes no sense, you don’t understand what democracy means.)

    2. The “party” didn’t “let” a candidate through a primary uncontested. The Dems don’t have some inner circle that assigns candidates to run for office.
      Simply put, Josh Shapiro had 16 million cash on hand, and no other challenger was willing to take on such a well-funded candidate.

      Shapiro has many faults, but he by far the most likely candidate to win for the Dems in November. While there are plenty who could govern better than Josh, they simply aren’t as electable (by virtue of fundraising, name-recognition, and election experience).

  5. Politics PA is a GOP rag sheet doing its best to srir up trouble within Democratic Party ranks. Pay no attention.

  6. This is such a joke coming from Shapiro: Shapiro also said that Lawrence was the only candidate “putting our party’s success ahead of self-interest, and putting in the hard work.”

    Shapiro is ALL about self-interest (and running for offices as stepping stones.. and abandoning them to take the next job).

    Gerry is a “nice guy”, but he’s EXACTLY the type of lackey/stooge/flunky/shill that someone like Trump would pick to control the process. Shapiro is transparently no different in his motivations.

    It’s no secret that Josh wants to run for President someday. Having control of the PA State Committee Chair would allow for manipulations of the selection of DNC convention delegates (gee.. who get to vote on nominees) and other shenanigans.

    But, also the State Committee can be quite the slush-fund for nepotism, credit-card abuses/charges, perks, etc. to the executive staff as we saw in the wake of 2016.

    Finally, the State Committee endorses for other key offices: Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and judges. Each of these is an independent check on the governor’s office. It is HIGHLY IMPROPER for the Governor to pick a chairman who could influence the endorsement process of these independent offices.

    I’ve know Gerry for over 15 years. He’s a “nice guy” and very knowledgeable election rules and process. He’s also NOT A LEADER. He’s the accountant/bookkeeper in the backroom, but not a guy who has ever demonstrated leadership qualities. He’s the kind of guy who fights hardest to maintain the status quo, not make bold changes. His “ethics” seem to be limited only by how much he can twist the meaning of “the rules” to serve his master’s agenda in the party.

    Also, Josh has a lot of nerve even involving himself. I’ve been going to state committee events for about 10 years now, and I think the ONLY two times Josh showed up were when he was seeking the AG nomination, and recently few months ago when he got the (uncontested) Gov nomination. Other than that, I can’t recall him having anything to do with state committee.

    The State Committee members are independently ELECTED and have a duty to pick a leader who will prioritize their concerns/issues, and not be a puppet of the Governor NOMINEE.

    1. The person leading the Democratic party shouldn’t be someone who tried to work with Republicans to gerrymander the state further just to draw himself a congressional seat. Shariff Street shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the chairmanship.

      1. You mean that Dem officials like to gerrymander in their own favor? I’m shocked! SHOCKED, I say!

        A few years ago I had a conversation with the head of the Senate Dems about the merits of fair districting. He nodded and agreed with all the points. But, then he asked, “what if the fair map doesn’t give us an advantage?”. (insert forehead-smack emoji).

  7. If the candidate for Governor who is the only survivor of the state row office wipe out last cycle wants Lawrence, the Lawrence it is for chair. Sort of when a big shot starting pitcher likes a certain catcher to catch for them you tell that catcher to suit up.


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