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The Debrief: Mixed reactions to Pat Browne's nomination for revenue secretary

Pat Browne
Tom Shortell
Pat Browne, Lehigh County's former state senator, reflects on his 28 years in office Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.

Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, has named former State Sen. Pat Browne as his pick for Secretary of Revenue. Browne is a Republican who has represented the Lehigh Valley in the State House and Senate for decades.

WLVR’s Brad Klein speaks with politics reporter Tom Shortell about the choice and what it may mean for the Lehigh Valley.

Shortell says that Browne is getting a more positive response from across the partisan aisle.

Brad Klein (BK): This is WLVR. I'm Brad Klein. Governor elect Josh Shapiro has named former State Senator Pat Browne as his pick for secretary of revenue. Politics reporter Tom Shortell has reported on that pick for WLVR News and LehighValleyNews.com. Hi, Tom.

Tom Shortell (TS): Hey Brad, how you doing?

BK: Well, Browne is a Republican who's represented the Lehigh Valley in the State House and Senate for decades. Shapiro is a Democrat. What's been the reaction to this announcement so far?

TS: It's been somewhat mixed, with Democrats that I've spoken to were very quick to praise him. Pat Browne is a bipartisan, moderate Republican who they were very happy to work with. Some of the Republicans I've spoken to, his successor, for example, State Senator Jarrett Coleman, said that he would not support his nomination. Others, just didn't hear anything from them, kind of a muted response.

BK: It's fascinating. Tom, you're a careful observer of PA politics. Were there signs that this nomination was coming?

TS: Yes and no. So I spoke with Browne for a story back in late December. And he didn't mention anything like this. He said that his plan was to go back to his accounting firm. He also is an attorney and specializes in tax law, and nothing like this came up. But rumors started to swirl within the last few days that he could be up for this gig.

BK: Well, the Secretary of Revenue collects billions of dollars and is involved in distributing them. Does this mean anything for the Lehigh Valley, given the deep roots that Pat Browne has in this area?

TS: Not quite like he used to? I mean, he was the... He's the former chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which gave him tremendous sway over how money was allocated and spent, he could direct millions of dollars to Lehigh Valley, and some of its causes. He can't do that in this job if he gets it. But he has a governor's ear, he is colleagues with other cabinet members who can have more control over what projects get funding and which ones don't. So it's a different kind of pull than what he's had in the past.

BK: He has responsibility for the whole state, but he does have roots here in the Lehigh Valley. Thanks so much for joining us, Tom.

TS: Thank you, Brad.

BK: Tom Shortell reports on politics for WLVR and LehighValleyNews.com.