Pitt’s College Democrats feel ‘confident’ as midterms approach, flock to pro-choice candidates


Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer

Students listen to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro speak in the William Pitt Union on Oct. 27, an event co-organized by the Pitt College Democrats and Pitt Students for Shapiro.

By Trevor Weinstock, Staff Writer

Jake Lorenz, the secretary of Pitt College Democrats, believes Josh Shapiro is more equipped than his Republican challenger Doug Mastriano to serve as governor. He believes Shapiro would better address issues Pennsylvanians are currently facing — rising food and gas prices, underfunded schools and “attacks on our freedom.”

“I am very confident in the two Pennsylvania democratic races both for the governorship and for the Senate. I think nationwide, you’ll see similar trends that happen every midterm year during the presidential four-year term,” Lorenz said. “So regardless of national trends happening in Congress, I am confident that our Pennsylvania team will be successful, as it’s showing in virtually every poll.”

Many members of the Pitt College Democrats are working with other clubs, such as Pitt For Shapiro and Pitt Law Democrats, to spread the word about this year’s elections. In the past month, Democratic candidates Arvind Venkat, Summer Lee and Shapiro, who are running for a state House seat, federal House seat and governor, respectively, have spoken at events for the organization. Through these events, members say they’ve gotten a better understanding of the politicians. 

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, abortion rights have become a more prominent issue for many Pennsylvanians. Mary Boyd, a first-year political science major, said she feels abortion access is one of her top priorities when selecting who to vote for. 

“The main thing, at least on my mind, is definitely abortion rights,” Boyd said. “And I think that goes for a lot of Pennsylvanians, especially the Pennsylvania Democrats. So that’s mainly what I’m most concerned about. Oz and Mastriano are very against abortion. So I’m really hoping to get pro-choice candidates elected.”

Lorenz said he is concerned about Mastriano’s incorrect claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Lorenz said he is also concerned about Mastriano’s anti-abortion beliefs and that he’s not supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Mastriano has said that same-sex marriage should not be legal. 

“The stakes of this election have never been higher,” Lorenz said. “These are two very different candidates, Shapiro, who will defend LGBT rights, defend workers’ rights to address the climate crisis, versus a conspiracy theorist and an election denier. So the stakes are very high.”

Boyd also supports Lee due to her focus on voting rights and her determination to make voting more accessible by ending voter ID laws and giving formerly incarcerated people the right to vote.

“Lee’s main goal is to expand the electorate,” Boyd said. “And so that kind of goes back to like making sure everyone can vote making sure everyone has a say, and she’s definitely advocating for minority groups and I think that’s very important.” 

Amanda Thornton, a junior political science major and the president of Pitt College Democrats, said she supports John Fetterman for Senate because of his determination to protect reproductive rights.

“I agree with him on a lot of issues,” Thornton said. “One big thing for me is his stance on abortion. I appreciate his stance, especially coming from a male legislator. I appreciate anyone who sympathizes with that issue and he is pro-choice.”

Although Thornton is from Mechanicsburg and will not be able to vote for Lee, she believes she is the future of the Democratic Party. 

“Summer Lee’s always been someone I’ve admired,” Thornton said. “I heard her speak a couple weeks ago on campus, and she’s such an amazing person and she believes that the Democratic Party needs a lot of work done to it, but she is working to help implement that change and help implement change that is better for everyone.”

Although Alyssa Dosch, a first-year elementary education major, is from Virginia, she is heavily focused on Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race. She is concerned the results of this election will be similar to Virginia’s last gubernatorial race. Last year, Virginia voters elected Republican Glenn Youngkin, even though Biden won the commonwealth in the presidential election by more than 10 points

“That’s one of my biggest fears. That’s why I’m so passionate about this election, because I’ve already seen how it’s beginning to affect Virginia,” Dosch said. “Glenn Youngkin is already trying to enact a trans ban. It’s really bad over there right now. And I think it’s a very real possibility that it is, but I also have a lot of hope that we can win this thing. That’s why getting out the vote is so, so important.”

Thornton believes that it is essential that every young person goes out and votes in this election cycle. 

“It is your civic right as an American citizen — most young people don’t think that voting affects them, but it really does,” Thornton said. “It’s because if you don’t go out and vote, then you’re not going to see legislators who reflect what you believe in and reflect who you are. So it’s extremely important that we go out and vote.”