The Job Is Managing State Finances, but His Issues Are Jan. 6 and Abortion

A Pennsylvania Democrat announced a bid for state treasurer on Tuesday by seeking to tie his Republican opponent to two of the country’s most incendiary issues: abortion rights and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In his announcement video, Ryan Bizzarro, a member of the state House of Representatives, accuses the Republican incumbent, Stacy Garrity, of being “Pennsylvania’s highest-ranking extremist office holder.” He highlights her past support for abortion restrictions and her appearance at a rally in Harrisburg the day before the Capitol riot in which she appeared to endorse former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged.

Campaigns for a lower-profile office like state treasurer — where the duties include managing the government’s cash flow, not setting policy — have tended to fly under voters’ radars. But in a battleground state like Pennsylvania, where the presidency and a U.S. Senate seat will be fiercely contested in 2024, down-ballot races, too, can take on intense partisanship over issues with little connection to an official’s duties.

“She’s one of those extreme folks we’ve got to get rid of,” Mr. Bizarro said in an interview. His opening salvo takes a page from the playbook of Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who ran in 2022 against a hard-right opponent by promising to protect abortion and voting rights. Abortion rights in particular proved a galvanizing issue for Democrats in the midterm elections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. But while Pennsylvania’s governor has immense sway over those issues, its treasurer does not.

A campaign adviser to Ms. Garrity, Dennis Roddy, said that bringing abortion and Jan. 6 into the race was an effort to dodge the fact that Ms. Garrity has been a successful steward of Pennsylvania’s money.

“She’s done a hell of a job, she’s well liked and this is just the usual ‘let’s nationalize an election we can’t win on the merits,’” he said.

Mr. Bizarro’s announcement video begins with harrowing scenes of the violent attack on the Capitol, then cuts to Ms. Garrity at a Jan. 5, 2021, rally in Harrisburg that was organized to pressure Pennsylvania lawmakers to decertify the state’s vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. After courts in Pennsylvania had already rejected multiple claims of fraud by the Trump campaign and allies, Ms. Garrity insisted to the crowd, “The election from this November is tarnished forever.”

Ms. Garrity, an Iraq war veteran who defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2020, has also shown an inclination to lean into national issues. Her campaign Facebook page recently criticized Mr. Biden’s “hasty and spineless retreat” from Afghanistan, equated “Bidenomics=Bideninflation” and joined a chorus of Republican critics of Senator John Fetterman’s shorts-and-sweatshirt wardrobe.

In the past, Ms. Garrity, 59, has asked people to “please pray” for the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade and called to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2020, she boasted of being endorsed by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a group that says it exists “to end abortion.”

Mr. Bizzarro, 37, the House Democratic Policy Chair, comes from a family of professional prizefighters in Erie County, Pa. It is unclear if he will have a primary competitor. He appears in his video inside a boxing ring.

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