2020 Pennsylvania Endorsement Guide

The Inquirer’s Editorial Board vetted candidates in key races across the state to help you decide who to vote for.

Prior to each election, the Inquirer’s Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate.

We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can. In elections like the 2020 general, with many races and candidates, we have to make the hard decision to limit our endorsements to highly competitive races and local ballot questions. This means that unfortunately, we did not have the capacity to endorse in this year’s race for treasurer or for every state House race in the region. A lack of an endorsement is not judgment on the office or the race.

We research the candidates' backgrounds through the work of our newsroom colleagues, as well as through our own reporting.

The Board hosts meetings with candidates running in contested races, where we ask them about their stance on the issues we think are most important to their constituents. This year, we held virtual meetings with them on Zoom. The meetings are on the record, and political reporters and editors are invited to participate, but they do not weigh in on the endorsement process.

We did not meet with the presidential and vice presidential candidates, but researched them heavily, did original reporting, and closely monitored their platforms, public statements, and debate performance.

We invite your comments on this process and our endorsements at opinion@inquirer.com. If you’d like your comments to be considered for our letters to the editor page, please include your address and phone number (not for publication) so we can verify your identity.

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Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden, who has dedicated his life to public service, earns the Inquirer Editorial Board’s endorsement for president in 2020.

Fundamentally, there is no common ground shared by Trump and Biden. Trump’s lack of respect for the office he holds, his disregard for the country at a time when we need sound, informed, and unifying leadership, and his contempt for the democratic principles this country was founded on, make such comparisons both futile and absurd. To contrast Trump with a candidate like Biden, who has spent his life in public service, who has gravitas as well as experience in domestic and foreign affairs, and who, frankly, has a healthy relationship with reality, would do a disservice to Biden.

Trump’s own recent COVID-19 diagnosis was the exclamation point on a president’s failure to take seriously a pandemic that has killed 210,000 of his fellow Americans.

We believe Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, have the ability to get America back on a healthy, unified track to regain the country’s strength and its standing in the world. Their priorities must be to confront the twin health and economic crises that face us and to address the social divisions and upheaval that tear the nation.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement of Joe Biden for president.

Attorney General
Josh Shapiro
Matt Rourke / AP
Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s efforts to restore integrity to his office have earned him the Inquirer Editorial Board’s endorsement.

As a well-regarded former county commissioner and state legislator with a reputation for being smart and principled, Shapiro has succeeded in restoring integrity to the office. His performance in office for the past four years has been as a fierce advocate, which has served Pennsylvanians well.

There are issues on which we disagree with him, like his opposition to safe injection sites, but his success in restoring integrity and fighting on behalf of Pennsylvanians earns Josh Shapiro our strong endorsement.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement of Josh Shapiro for attorney general.

Auditor General
Nina Ahmad
Matt Rourke / AP
Nina Ahmad, who has run for elected office in the past, is The Inquirer Editorial Board’s pick for auditor general.

A scientist by training, as well as a small-business owner, Nina Ahmad was a candidate for lieutenant governor, has worked in Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration, and served as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women.

We believe she would bring a wider perspective and the ability to not only question spending of state agencies, but how government operates and the priorities it makes.

The Auditor General’s Office doesn’t have deep authority to make change, so it must rely on making its findings visible and public. We believe Ahmad would bring that strength to the office. The fact that Pennsylvania is shamefully lacking in women holding statewide office gives her the edge — and earns Nina Ahmad this board’s endorsement.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement of Nina Ahmad for auditor general.

Brian Fitzpatrick
Matt Rourke / AP
Brian Fitzpatrick earned The Inquirer Editorial Board’s endorsement in 2018 and again in 2020 for his commitment to bipartisanship.

Fitzpatrick earns our endorsement because he seems genuinely interested in maintaining a separation from more rabid partyline Republicans and appears driven by his principles first, not party. Two years ago, when we endorsed Brian Fitzpatrick, this board said “We don’t agree with him on everything, but his brand of politics should be rewarded.” That still holds.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement of Brian Fitzpatrick for PA1.

Ballot Question 1
YES on restricting unconstitutional stop and frisk

Declaring that already unconstitutional stops are unlawful under city law might seem redundant, but unfortunately nearly a decade into efforts to reform unconstitutional stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia, this ballot measure is necessary. This charter amendment will put the Police Department on notice — every unconstitutional stop is not only wrong but a direct violation of the will of the people of Philadelphia. We support a YES vote.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement on Philly ballot question 1.

Ballot Question 2
YES on Office of Victim Advocate

By creating a cabinet level Office of Victim Advocate in the city, assistance to victims, functions are currently spread through the city, state, DA’s Office, and private service providers can be streamlined. Too often, victim services become wrongly synonymous with more punitive policies and ignore the fact that many people who participate in violence have been victimized themselves. If created, the office’s main focus should be coordinating services and promoting policies that improve connection to services, and not promoting criminal justice policies as we’ve seen from the state’s office. Vote YES.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement on Philly ballot question 2.

Ballot Question 3
YES on Citizens Police Oversight Commission

Philadelphia has been experimenting with various models of civilian oversight over police for decades. For this effort to be different, the new Citizens Police Oversight Commission, that will replace the current Police Advisory Commission, will need resources and authority — both in making decisions binding over police in some form and in its ability to access information. Vote YES and keep pressure on Council to ensure the new body is more than a rebrand.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement on Philly ballot question 3.

Ballot Question 4
YES on bond question

This is a routine question that is required for the City to borrow money. Vote YES.

Read The Inquirer’s full endorsement on Philly ballot question 4.

Beyond PA
New Jersey Endorsements
Dain Saint / STAFF

The Inquirer’s Editorial Board also endorsed candidates in a handful of key races across the Delaware River in New Jersey. Amy Kennedy earned our nod in her race for the Second District against Jeff Van Drew and Andy Kim got his second consecutive Inquirer endorsement over David Richter in the Third District. Plus, we unpack the three ballot measures that every N.J. voter must consider.

Read The Inquirer’s full list of New Jersey endorsements.