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Local News

McClelland the projected winner of Democratic primary for Pa. treasurer

Erin McClelland (Credit: Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Ian Karbal, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 23, 2024

Small business owner Erin McClelland is projected to win the Democratic party primary for Pennsylvania Treasurer, the Associated Press reported, defeating state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie).

McClelland will face Republican incumbent Stacy Garrity who is unopposed in the Republican primary. Garrity has held the office since 2020 and will be running for a second and final term.

“There was a strategy here and it played out,” McClelland told the Capital-Star after her victory Tuesday. “Women were going to be 60 % percent of the vote and Allegheny County is the sixth most Irish county in the state,” McClelland said in reference to her Irish surname.

McClelland said her 56% to 44% victory, according to unofficial results, over Bizzarro was repudiation of the state Democratic Party’s decision not to endorse her.

“The state party wanted to say women’s voices don’t matter. Well, women voted and you can’t get their votes if you don’t have a voice,” McClelland said.

Looking ahead to the general election, McClelland said she hopes to engage in a constructive debate with Republican incumbent Stacy Garrity on policy and qualifications. 

“I think the electorate is really tired of fear mongering and rage. They want to see politicians talking about doing the job,” McClelland said.

The state Treasurer is responsible for managing the collection and spending of billions of public dollars — basically, they ensure state revenues make it to the right accounts, and that that money is invested wisely and spent when and where lawmakers and state agencies intend. The Treasurer’s duties also include overseeing investment funds like the ones that pay state employee pensions, and also oversee the distribution of unclaimed property held by the state.

Bizzarro has served in the state House since 2013 and is the chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee. He told the Capital-Star that his experience and networking in government would help him make the office more efficient.

Bizzarro has campaigned on using the treasurer’s office to make more funds available for entrepreneurs from marginalized communities who are less likely to receive funding from traditional sources. He has also said he wants to establish regional offices to make more Pennsylvanians aware of services the treasurers’ office provides, like funding initiatives and returning unclaimed property.

Erin McClelland campaigned on her experience as a small business owner, telling the Capital-Star, “I am the only one in the race that has actually made a payroll as well as worked in the public sector.”

McClelland has promised to stop investing Pennsylvania’s money in foreign holdings, and said that she would prioritize upgrading the office’s cyber-security efforts.

Earlier in her campaign, McClelland came under fire for receiving donations and spending money on her campaign before officially registering a fundraising committee with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The Capital-Star found other irregularities in her fundraising reports as well, which the campaign attributed to “glitches.”

Garrity, the incumbent, became the first Republican to hold the position in over 15 years when she was elected in 2020.

She notably oversaw a refresh of the state’s unclaimed property system in an effort to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to claim unclaimed property being held by the state. 

Unclaimed property will almost certainly remain an issue in the general election. Garrity has said her improvements led to roughly $275 million in unclaimed property being returned in 2023, but her opponents have questioned whether the number is inflated.

Garrity is also campaigning on her efforts to expand the state’s 529 college savings program. 529 accounts are state-sponsored and can be used to pay for many college expenses tax-free. 

Both Democratic candidates have criticized Garrity’s investment of $20 million of state funds in Israeli bonds amid the war in Gaza.

In 2020, Garrity showed support for efforts to overturn the 2020 election of President Joe Biden, in spite of no evidence of widespread voter fraud being produced by then-President Donald Trump and his legal team. Both Democratic primary candidates have criticized her for it.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.