The Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1974 was held on November 5. Incumbent
DemocraticGovernorMilton Shapp defeated
RepublicanDrew Lewis. Under the state's 1968 constitution, Shapp was the first governor who was eligible to run for consecutive terms.
Incumbent Governor Shapp easily dispelled a spirited challenge from
Martin Mullen, a state representative from Philadelphia who was well known as a firebrand conservative opponent of abortion and pornography. With a short Republican bench, wealthy staffing executive
Drew Lewis was the only serious contender in the race.
Drew Lewis, CEO of the staffing company Snelling & Snelling
Ken Lee, Speaker of the State House of Representatives
Shapp's popularity had waned somewhat since his coasted to victory in 1970; although he could claim to have saved the state from bankruptcy, he did so at the expense of large tax increases. Furthermore, Shapp, an unabashed liberal, had difficulty rekindling support from the state's rural, socially conservative regions. However, Shapp and Democrats as a whole got a huge boost from the
Watergate scandal; with President
Nixon's popularity in a tailspin, many of the top tier Republicans declined to run. Instead, the party turned to the wealthy businessman Lewis, who was able to project an "outsider" image. Lewis focused on local issues and greatly undercut Shapp in rural areas; despite lagging at the polls in traditional Democratic strongholds such as
Scranton, Shapp preserved a moderate victory by winning the combined vote of suburban Philadelphia, an almost unthinkable accomplishment at the time.