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


Of the Republican candidates running for Pennsylvania governor, none may be more unapologetic of a willingness to stir the pot than Joe Gale. The primary election is Tuesday. 

Gale, 32, a Montgomery County commissioner, began his political career by defeating the GOP’s endorsed candidate for the position in 2015. He has touted his victory as the first to occur without the backing of the county party. Gale was also 26 years old at the time, making him the youngest-elected county commissioner.

Serving as the lone Republican on the board since 2016, Gale’s tenure has largely been defined by controversy.

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

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

In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Gale claimed there was a double standard for violent acts committed by the left and right wing. 

Gale has been a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump. He claims he was the first elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse the former president and has sought to cast himself as a conservative outsider who can disrupt the status quo through a platform of “patriotic populism.”

Gale’s platform, which he describes as a “common-sense conservative” agenda, includes various election reform polices. He wants to eliminate the state’s no-excuse absentee voting law, mandate photo ID requirements at the polls and restore traditional absentee ballots that require an excuse and signature. 

He also seeks to reform property taxes and pensions for state employees, and privatize the state’s liquor system. He does not support abortion in any case. 

Gale has sought to mimic Trump’s bombastic style in his criticism of his opponents. He has targeted state Sen. Doug Mastriano and former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, saying they cannot defeat likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro. 

Gale has attacked Mastriano for voting for no-excuse mail-in ballots in 2019 and labeled him a “puppet” candidate under the control of the GOP establishment. He’s called Barletta “a proven loser.”

Gale has emphasized that his familiarity with Shapiro would give the GOP the best chance to win 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 GOP primary challengers against Republicans who don’t meet his conservatives ideals.

Gale’s younger brother, Sean, is running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

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

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