Laughlin won't run for PA governor, set to endorse another Republican

State Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie has decided to forego a run for governor in 2022 and instead endorse a fellow Republican for the job.

"I firmly believe that had I gotten the support that absolutely I would have been an excellent contender against Josh Shapiro in the general election," Laughlin told the Erie Times-News Monday morning, referring to the Democratic frontrunner and state attorney general. "But try as I might I couldn't raise any money."

Hart announces: Former GOP Congresswoman Melissa Hart expected to announce run for Pa. governor

State Sen. Dan Laughlin, of Millcreek, R-49th Dist., is shown in his Erie office on Nov. 4. Laughlin told the Erie Times-News on Monday that he would not run for governor, and is set to endorse businessman and former Delaware County Councilman Dave White.
State Sen. Dan Laughlin, of Millcreek, R-49th Dist., is shown in his Erie office on Nov. 4. Laughlin told the Erie Times-News on Monday that he would not run for governor, and is set to endorse businessman and former Delaware County Councilman Dave White.

Laughlin, who last month said he had struggled to raise money since launching an exploratory committee in June, was expected to reevaluate his potential campaign by the end of the year if fundraising continued to lag.

He said Monday he would have forged ahead with a campaign had he been able to raise $350,000 to $400,000. Last month he said he'd raised about $200,000. On Monday, he said he had roughly $125,000 in the bank.

A recent fundraiser, he said, "didn't go well." At that point, he figured his chances of being able to gain traction in a crowded field of candidates wasn't likely.

More: State Sen. Dan Laughlin: 'I like my chances' in governor's race, but fundraising lags

More: Laughlin considering bid for senate president, exiting governor's race if successful

'We have a lot in common'

A press release from his campaign Monday morning said Laughlin plans to announce his "gubernatorial endorsement" at Team Hardinger Transportation, 1314 W. 18th St., on Tuesday.

“I believe we need to come together and focus on the future of the Commonwealth,” Laughlin says in the statement. “This candidate has the potential of bringing the necessary unity to the 2022 Election and I am giving him my full support.”

That candidate is Republican businessman and former Delaware County Councilman Dave White, Laughlin told the Times-News Monday.

White, a 60-year-old third-generation steamfitter, having more than 40 years of experience in HVAC installation and servicing, founded the company DWD Mechanical Contractor Inc. in 2005. Prior to starting his own business, White worked several decades as a union pipefitter.

White told the (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader last month that he's invested $2 million of his own money into his campaign.

A few months ago I met Dave White and he's got kind of a similar background to me," Laughlin said. "Obviously he's much more financially successful, but he grew up fairly lower-income. His father was a steamfitter. My father was a union carpenter. We have a lot in common and in getting to know him a little bit, that shared upbringing that we have is why I feel strongly enough to support him in this effort early on."

Keeping his options open

Laughlin, 59, of Millcreek Township, Erie County, represents the 49th Senate District and is completing the first year of his second, four-year term.

After winning 60% of the vote in his 2020 reelection campaign, Laughlin began discussing a potential run for governor in 2022 to fill the open seat now held by Gov. Tom Wolf, a two-term Democrat who is term-limited.

Laughlin said he couldn't raise enough money to complete a successful run for governor.
Laughlin said he couldn't raise enough money to complete a successful run for governor.

Laughlin fashioned himself as a centrist who could win independents, moderate Democrats and Republicans in a field of "far-right" GOP candidates. This year he became the first Republican in the General Assembly to call for the legalization of recreational marijuana and proposed an increase in the state's minimum wage. He's also said that he would not make any changes to Pennsylvania's abortion laws as most people in his party have called for tighter restrictions.

More: State Sen. Dan Laughlin cosponsors bill to permit home cultivation of medical marijuana

But with so many other Republicans exploring or officially announcing their candidacies, Laughlin struggled to bring in cash.

The field of Republicans is into the upper teens, with former Congressman Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano at the top of the field, according to some polls. Most Republicans are undecided on who they want to run against the Democratic frontrunner, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is the only person in his party to have announced their candidacy.

Laughlin said he'll keep open his options for a future gubernatorial bid. He would even consider running for Congress in 2022, but he would not challenge an incumbent Republican. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th Dist., plans to seek a sixth two-year term, his office said last month, but he has not formally declared his campaign for reelection.

"I'm not ruling anything out," Laughlin said. "You just never know what's going to happen. Something's going to work out. I've got a pretty good political future, I believe."

Contact Matthew Rink at mrink@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ETNrink.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Laughlin won't run for PA governor, set to endorse Republican Dave White