Big Names Aid Young Turk’s Election Victory

By Rob Charry

Published November 26, 2004, issue of November 26, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

PHILADELPHIA — One bright spot for Democrats on a generally gloomy Election Day was the election of Josh Shapiro to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives.

In his first run for public office, Shapiro, 31, won with 54% of the vote, despite having to campaign in a suburban Philadelphia district with more registered Republicans than Democrats. Shapiro was boosted by support from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, as well as campaign appearances by Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

“It is a very exciting prospect to have someone of Josh Shapiro’s youth, energy and intelligence in the legislature,” Rendell said. “I predict he will be one of the stars of the legislature in the years to come.”

Shapiro, who has worked for several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, seemed destined for a career in public service from a very young age. When he was only 10, he became active in the fight for Soviet Jewry, working to free several Jewish families. Shapiro’s first actual political campaign came several years later, when he launched an unsuccessful run for student body president at Akiba Hebrew Academy.

Shapiro recovered from his first political setback after enrolling at the University of Rochester, where he successfully lobbied for money to keep several athletic programs afloat on campus. Then he was encouraged to run for student body president and became the first freshman to be elected president at Rochester. Shapiro subsequently changed his major from pre-med to political science.

After graduating at 21, Shapiro went to work as a legislative aide to Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat. He subsequently served stints as a foreign policy aide to Rep. Peter Deutsch of Florida and Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey before becoming chief of staff to Rep. Joe Hoeffel of Pennsylvania.

“Most people who are in that position either stay on in Capitol Hill, go into the administration or into lobbying,” Shapiro said. “While I very much enjoyed my time working for Joe Hoeffel, I was also interested in offering my own views.”

Hoeffel, who chose not to run for re-election, failed last week in his bid to unseat four-term incumbent Senator Arlen Specter.

During the recent campaign, Shapiro estimates he knocked on 17,000 doors. Asked why he was able to succeed in a district with a Republican majority, Shapiro said, “If you work hard and you appeal to the highest common denominator and you give voters a reason to vote for you, then you can win.”

In truth, it was tougher than that cliché-ridden explanation makes it sound. “The first poll showed me down, probably 40 points.”

Among the congratulatory calls he received after the election was one from Lieberman. “He’s a real mensch,” Shapiro said. “We both believe we need to move our party back to the center, and if we work from the center out, that we can strengthen our party and bring more people in.”

Shapiro is targeting “the lack of affordable health insurance” as the main issue on which he will focus during his first term. “Perhaps this is my Jewish upbringing talking, but I think we have a moral obligation to make sure that we provide health care to all of us, young and old.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.